The Newt wave has hit the Palmetto State as the latest Winthrop Poll released Tuesday shows that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has surged to a commanding lead among GOP voters less than seven weeks before the South Carolina GOP presidential primary.
The latest poll of likely GOP primary voters shows Gingrich with 38.4 percent of the vote to Mitt Romney’s 21.5 percent. Rick Perry is third at 9 percent. The campaign has seen Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain all ride the crest of the conservative wave of the party only to falter for various reasons. Winthrop Poll Director Dr. Scott Huffmon says the question for Gingrich is: has he reached the top at the right time?
Huffmon says the good news for Romney is that, throughout the campaign, his support has been the most consistent. The bad news is Romney has not been able to build on that support to push him to the top.
AUDIO: Huffmon says it’s Gingrich’s surge vs. Romney’s consistency
Huffmon says, despite Gingrich’s multiple marriages and stories of his extramarital affairs, Gingrich is garnering support from evangelicals. Huffmon says a number of political pundits say that’s because Romney is a Mormon, who won’t gain evangelical support, but he says that simply is not true. In fact, Huffmon says, evangelicals respect Mormons for the way they conduct their lives. Huffmon says the poll shows that among evangelicals Gingrich has 40 perent support to less than 18 percent for Romney.
AUDIO: Huffmon says Gingrich and Romney will be battling for support from evangelicals
Huffmon says this campaign is like any other campaign when you observe the contrast between party leaders and the rank-and-file voters. Huffmon says party leaders are more strategic in their thinking and they are likely to throw their support toward the candidate they think has the best chance to win the general election, while rank and file voters tend to vote for the candidate who more closely follows their political beliefs.
AUDIO: Huffmon says rank and file GOP voters have tough a choice
The poll also surveyed a cross-section of registered voters regardless of party affiliation. Of that sampling, 81 percent of voters disapprove of the way Congress is doing its job. About 48 percent approve of President Obama’s performance.