Newt Gingrich has momentum as South Carolina goes to the polls
Polls show the South Carolina primary Saturday is now Newt Gingrich's to lose after Mitt Romney stumbled this week. But Romney still is favored to win Florida's primary and the nomination.
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Nate Silver, who writes the closely-watched FiveThirtyEight blog at the New York Times now gives Gingrich a 64 percent chance of winning South Carolina (compared to just 36 percent chance for Romney). The prediction market Intrade (which can change moment-to-moment) says Gingrich has an 86 percent chance of winning the first southern primary.Skip to next paragraph
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"If we get every conservative to decide Newt Gingrich is the right person to stop a Massachusetts moderate, we will win by a surprising margin, and that's going to set the stage for us winning the nomination," Gingrich said as he campaigned Friday.
For their part, Romney and his aides have spent the hours since Thursday night’s debate scrambling to lower expectations.
"I expect that Newt will win some primaries and contests and I expect I will as well," Romney said on the Laura Ingraham radio show Friday. "I'm not expecting to win them all."
But if Romney can recover from this predicted upset (or if he can surprise the pundits and pollsters and win by a slim margin Saturday), he still has a good chance of winning the nomination.
Intrade says he has a 63 percent chance of taking the next big primary – Florida – and a 70 percent chance of being nominated (compared to just 26 percent for Gingrich). Nate Silver gives Romney a whopping 93 percent chance of winning the Sunshine State.
In all of the polls tracked by Real Clear Politics, Romney wins the Republican nomination by an average of 11 percentage points. In all of the general election surveys pitting each of the GOP candidates against Barack Obama, Romney comes much closer than Gingrich, Santorum, or Ron Paul to defeating the incumbent president – the clearest gauge of his electability.
“I think anything is possible,” says Gallup’s Frank Newport. “It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility if Romney recovers. We’ll wait and see.”