South Carolina GOP primary results discussion thread

Polls close in South Carolina at 7 pm eastern time, and most observers now expect Newt Gingrich to beat Mitt Romney. Gingrich led the last several polls to come out of the state, and an unnamed Romney aide is spinning a tale about a Newt win being good for the GOP front-runner going forward.

Any comments about the Republican presidential primaries are welcome in this thread. I don’t think Rick Santorum will drop out at this stage, even if he finishes a distant third or fourth place tonight. He may as well stick it out until the Florida primary on January 31, to see whether Gingrich fades again as the preferred “not Romney.” Whether Santorum has the money to compete is another question. Romney has been up on Florida tv and radio for a while. Gingrich is running what sounds like a devastating Spanish-language radio ad against Romney, although Cuban-American GOP members of Congress from South Florida have endorsed Romney.

UPDATE: It’s Newt by a mile. With about 88 percent of the votes counted, Gingrich has 40.5 percent of the vote, Romney 27.0 percent, Santorum 17.4 percent and Ron Paul 13.4 percent. Excerpts from the candidates’ speeches tonight are after the jump.

LATER UPDATE: With 100 percent reporting, Gingrich received 40.4 percent of the vote, Romney 27.9 percent, Santorum 17.0 percent and Paul 13.0 percent. Gingrich won 23 of South Carolina’s delegates, while Romney won the other two. Romney carried only three counties.  

Gingrich told a cheering crowd tonight, “It’s not that I am a good debater. It’s that I articulate the deepest felt values of the American people.” Tapping into one of his biggest applause lines throughout the campaign, he promised to be the most effective pay check president, in contrast to Barack Obama, the “most effective food stamp president in American history.” Gingrich also said Paul had been right about monetary policy for 25 years and had a few nice things to say about Santorum and Romney too.

Paul talked about ending the Federal Reserve and getting the U.S. back on the gold standard in his speech to supporters tonight. He also lamented our national attitude toward freedom:

“Unfortunately, our country has been very lackadaisical. And this is what we’re reviving – and that is, we’re lackadaisical about our understanding and our trust in freedom. This is what we need: We need to restore the confidence that if we want a free and prosperous society, we have to understand the necessity of assuming responsibility for ourselves.”

Santorum touted his “working-class values” and made clear that he is not leaving the “wide open” race anytime soon. He said Gingrich “kicked butt” and predicted the GOP primaries would “go on for a long time.”

Romney also referred to “a long primary season” in his speech to supporters tonight:

Romney spent most of the rest of his speech criticizing President Obama, though he criticized his GOP rivals for what he cast as their attacks on “free enterprise” — that is, his tenure running Bain Capital, a venture-capital firm that sometimes laid off employees at the companies it took over. “The Republican Party doesn’t demonize prosperity, we celebrate success in our party,” he said, adding that Republicans who join Democrats in such criticisms “are not going to be fit to be our nominee.” Gingrich has been a vocal critic of Romney’s tenure at Bain.

  • whenever i see this picture

    I just start laughing. Next week’s debate(s) should be very interesting.

    Mitt Romney lost 2 elections within 48hrs. He’s not electable w/o clearing up the taxes/Cayman Islands/IRA business — has been tumbling in national polling.

    • wow

      The only income group that Romney won was people making above $200,000 a year — 1 in 20 of those who voted Saturday.

      • Good to see

        Newt Gingrich is certainly not a man with core convictions, but I do believe that when he changes his mind on some policy positions, its because he thought about it…sometimes.  Mitt Romney on the other hand completely wants 1994-2006 wiped out of our minds completely oh and forget some of the eighties too when I was able to make millions off the fact that companies failed.

        The Ron Paul people will also throw a fit about a Gingrich presidency too, Gingrich won’t abandon social welfare programs nearly enough to their satisfaction, nor would he criticize the IMF, World Bank or whatever “global conspiracy” hub that the Paul people hate.

        Oh and for the record GOP voters in South Carolina overwhelmingly just supported a college professor, I guess intellectual theory isn’t dead in all circles.    

        • Artur Davis' comments

          There is something about South Carolina that was never quite understood. It was the first state in this cycle where Barack Obama’s policies have been an abject failure: a unemployment level that is catastrophic, almost 10 percent, and a year-long effort to block Boeing from bringing 10,000 jobs to the area. That environment favored a candidate who will launch an unbridled attack on Obama’s record and shortcomings, and who is undefensive about his own history. In the last week, that was Gingrich by a mile.

          Going forward, the first disconcerting news for Romney is that there are a batch of other states that have the same alienated cast as South Carolina – the bevy of Southern states in March, the downcast industrial states with a substantial conservative white working class, and they are all prime territory for Gingrich’s anti-elite message. The second bad news is that Romney’s negatives with the national electorate are steadily climbing – in a few weeks, he may no longer be the more electable candidate, which means that the central rationale for his nomination will have collapsed.

          As for Florida, Gingrich will be ahead there by the second half of next week, and the state that launched the tea party’s most successful Senate candidate in 2010 can’t be where Romney would want to make his next stand.

          re: attraction to working class

          It’s not so much that Gingrich has a working class message, it’s that he has an anti-elite message that’s resonating. That nobody from the US House has endorsed him, AFAIK, is probably helping him.

          That the “wife” dirty trick in the last 72 had no effect, perhaps even helped Newt is another middle finger to “politics as usual,” the media, etc.

          This is the kind of energy that fueled the Tea Party in 2010, so top-of-the-ticket is one thing, but I wonder if he can get conservatives to turn out in force for the GE?

    • a house in the precinct next door

      never took down their giant “NEWT 2012” yard sign (more the size of a barn sign). I’ve been chuckling at their hopeless optimism every time I walk by with my dog. But maybe the joke’s on me–he was never really out of it.

      I do not understand why Romney, who’s been running for president for at least six years, would use Cayman Islands tax shelters. At his level of wealth, a few million (or tens of millions) plus or minus isn’t going to make any difference to his standard of living. How could he not see that it would be damaging to use offshore tax evasion strategies, even if they were 100 percent legal? Not as smart as he looks.

  • Gergen

    on CNN may have a point. Newt could have real appeal with blue collar voters. Scary, but seems very feasible.

    Off topic, but this Adrew Sullivan piece in Newsweek perfectly captures my thinking on the president and his critics on both sides of the aisle:…  

    • Newt has "real appeal"

      with the blue-collar voters who are loyal Republicans. I do not see him getting any significant crossover blue-collar votes–certainly not as much as Santorum could.

      • Mrs. RF

        seems to agree with you. “People are smarter than that,” she says. But with people as angry and frustrated as they are, I would be a little worried.

  • They support him because he is saber rattling on iran

    Ron Paul will be a real contender when he goes independent.  What with Newt representing the neocons, and Obama representing the banks, the young are going to be deeply unhappy with the mainstream candidates this year.  

    Paul probably would have won Iowa if party machines hadnt deliberately scheduled the caucuses when they would be out for Christmas break.

    • It's always something...

      Whenever Ron Paul doesn’t win something, it’s always someone elses fault. “Oh, the party scheduled the caucus at the wrong time to keep him down!” “Oh, CNN/Fox/ABC/NBC/CBS/Univision/Whoever wouldn’t give him enough face time at the debates!” “Oh, those missing precincts are probably full of Ron Paul voters, it’s a conspiracy!”

      Give me a break. Maybe the reason Ron Paul doesn’t win is because less people agree with his far-out libertarianism than you think. No conspiracy. No excuses.

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