A guide to the 2012 Presidential Election: South Carolina

It’s been 24 hours since the results of the 2012 SC primary came down. It’s safe to say Newt Gingrich shocked the country with his win in SC.

First, a quick recap. Monday debate, Perry drops out on Thursday and endorses Gingrich, Debate Thursday, Newt wins Saturday by nearly 14% over Romney, securing 40% of the vote. Perry was only polling at 3-5% in SC, but his leaving the race likely encouraged some voters supporting Santorum and Romney over to Gingrich’s camp to rally behind who they currently believe is the best chance to defeat President Obama, despite polling showing otherwise nationwide. His victory speech left a lot to be desired, but he did enjoy a hearty crowd and the clear momentum heading into Florida.

Granted, this is still a snapshot of the race. On that particular day, Gingrich was the candidate South Carolinians chose as their favorite.

What’s more important is the exit polling data for South Carolina. Some of the most interesting information? In SC, Independents went for Gingrich over Romney.

On Sunday evening the first polling information from Florida was released. Statistically, he and Gingrich are tied with Santorum and Paul trailing. What makes this interesting is that Romney had been leading in the polls by a wide margin, with a large expectation that he would win absentee ballots and early voting. Gingrich reported via twitter on Sunday night that he had raised over $1M since his SC win. With the statistical deadlock in Florida, this next primary is absolutely critical to the nomination (although one could argue that every primary is critical).

Another quick note: Super Tuesday is not too far away, and assuming Gingrich can keep things in the road, he should win GA and TN. Romney should win MA, VA and VT with the rest up in the air. I would expect Gingrich to be leading Alaksa, Idaho and Oklahoma at this point as well. Between now and Super Tuesday we’ll have eight additional primaries, with Missouri not actually assigning delegates until later.

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