Newt pulled the upset, and the exit polling shows him with strength among conservatives, those concerned with electability, and women. Of course, that last demographic will get the most talk in light of Newt's affection for more than one partner at a time, but I guess the desire to defeat President Obama outweighs all other desires combined. It was a solid win, and by an even larger margin than I thought. The results:
Gingrich 36% 40%
Romney 34% 28%
Paul 15% 13%
Santorum 14% 17%
Obviously I missed out on Santorum and the margin, but Gingrich did what he needed to do. The debate performances and his robust conservatism won in a very conservative state. Now he can go on to Florida and see if he can win over the conservatives there. My guess is that he can. And if he wins Florida, then Romney's stock will have taken a Great Recession-type hit.
Santorum says he won't quit the race at this point. He gave it his all, but is clearly not the conservative voter's choice and he would only make it easier for Romney in the Sunshine State. Paul has his reliable 15%, but is now more marginalized than ever.
At this point, all of the candidates have been vetted. What's left will be an expensive, potentially nasty fight, although Mitt has to be careful because he was seen as running the most unfair race in South Carolina. I'm not sure what unfair means, but maybe Newt's charge against negative ads has something to do with it.
On to Florida, where voters have already been casting ballots. I imagine that after yesterday, Newt will see a surge of support.
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