Gingrich Up Big In South Carolina and Florida

More evidence that Newt Gingrich is the candidate with momentum now comes from two new NBC News/Marist polls:

According to new NBC News-Marist polls, the former House speaker has now opened up commanding leads in South Carolina and Florida — two states that historically have played important roles in deciding the eventual Republican nominee.

Fueled by the support from conservatives and the Tea Party, Gingrich is ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by nearly 20 points in South Carolina.  The winner of that state’s primary has gone on to capture each GOP nomination since 1980.

And he leads Romney by double digits in Florida, whose primary ultimately ended up deciding the party’s pick in 2008.

“You can see why the Romney people are getting a little itchy,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion, referring to the Romney campaign’s recent attacks on Gingrich.

The extent of Gingrich’s lead in these states can be seen in the RealClearPolitics charts:

It’s worth noting that at this point four years ago, Huckabee was leading in South Carolina and Giuliani was leading in Florida. Ultimately, McCain ended up winning both states. As I’ve argued before, this is another indication that what happens in Iowa and New Hampshire will have a huge impact on what happens in the remaining January contests. Nonethless, Newt has momentum in both of those states as well so he’s in a pretty comfortable position right now. How long it will last is another question.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Zandar says:

    That’s not the important part of the poll, Doug. Newt was leading before in SC and FL and he still is now.

    The important part is at the bottom of the First Read article, where President Obama is leading substantially in Florida over both candidates and has a 3-4 point lead on both Gingrich and Romney…in South Carolina.

  2. @Zandar:

    I saw that, but I’m waiting until I have a chance to look at the crosstabs to write about that part of the poll

  3. MBunge says:

    One thing to think about is whether hammering Obama on the economy will be enough. If it will be, just about any Republican will do and the establishment had clearly decided that Romney’s the safest choice. On the other hand, if the GOP candidate will need to make an argument beyond “It’s all Obama’s fault”, I think Newt showed Saturday night that he would be clearly better at that than Romney.


  4. The Florida Masochist says:

    As you might guess, I’m from Florida. I am however not a registered Republican. So Gingrich won’t be getting my primary vote one way or another.

    He probably won’t be getting my Republican registered wife’s vote either even though she shook his hand when they met at our church(and Dear Wife’s workplace) in March 2007.

    I think Romney will end up the GOP nominee next year for whatever that is worth. Five years ago I was predicting Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic nominee in 2008 and we all know how well that panned out.

  5. ponce says:

    I think Newt showed Saturday night that he would be clearly better at that than Romney.

    I doubt that.

    Outside the South, Gingrich comes off as a repulsive amoral freak.