Gingrich leads in three South Carolina polls

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
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In three South Carolina polls released Thursday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich bested former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who had previously maintained a lead in the state.

The three polls showed Gingrich and Romney hovering at around 30 percent support from the electorate — with Gingrich either six, three or two percent above Romney.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul scored at 15 percent in each of the polls, followed by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum at 11 percent in two polls and 14 percent in another.

The surprisingly consistent polls were conducted by Public Policy PollingInsider Advantage and Rasmussen Reports.

The results appear to indicate a reversal in Romney’s fortunes. Earlier in the week he appeared poised to win the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary, scoring a third consecutive win after the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

But the same day the poll results came out, Romney’s win in the Iowa caucuses was revealed to be, instead, a narrow loss to Santorum.

After the polls were released Thursday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry dropped out of the race and endorsed Gingrich.

Although the political wind may seem at Gingrich’s back, a forthcoming ABC News interview with his ex-wife Marianne Ginther promises to add intrige and confusion in the coming days. Ginther will reportedly reveal that he asked her to tolerate his infidelity with an “open” marriage.

Romney, however, faces his own political minefield with news that he maintains investments in the Cayman Islands — although his campaign claims he has gained no advantage by keeping money in the renowned Caribbean tax haven.

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