GOP Race Evolves As South Carolina Draws Near
January 20, 2012 by Sam Rolley
As Saturdayâ€™s primary voting in South Carolina draws near, there have been some shake-ups in the 2012 Republican Presidential race.
When polls indicated that Ron Paul had a chance of a very strong finish in the Iowa caucus that took place earlier this month, many political insiders said that if he did, the results should be disregarded. The results initially showed Mitt Romney beating Rick Santorum by just eight votes and put Paul in third.
However, the Des Moines Register reported on Thursday that after a review of the results by the Iowa GOP, there are â€śtoo many holes in the certified totalsâ€ť from the caucus to know for certain who really won — though Santorum came out 34 votes ahead by the final count. The results remain â€śunresolvedâ€ť because GOP officials in the State say the results from eight precincts are missing, never to be recovered and certified, and that they discovered inaccuracies in the results of 131 precincts. The final decision by Iowa GOP officials was to call a â€śsplit decisionâ€ť or â€śvirtual tieâ€ť between Romney and Santorum.
Also on Thursday, Rick Perry abandoned his Presidential bid and endorsed the campaign of Newt Gingrich as an alternative to Romney for conservative voters. Political analysts say that it is unclear what weight Perryâ€™s endorsement will carry for Gingrich; the Texas Governor was running last in polls of South Carolina voters before dropping out.
â€śI believe Newt is a conservative visionary who can transform our country,â€ť Perry said at a press conference in South Carolina. â€śWe have had our differences, which campaigns inevitably bring out. And Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?â€ť
A Rasmussen poll of likely Republican voters in South Carolina conducted on Wednesday showed Gingrich leading in the State with 33 percent favorability.Â In second place was establishment favorite Romney taking 31 percent followed by Paulâ€™s 15 percent third-place finish. One-third (31 percent) of the likely voters polled said they could still change their minds before Saturday.
Santorum has reportedly been struggling to make a connection with South Carolina voters, but some political experts say that his Iowa upgrade may help him gain steam as the â€śanti-Romneyâ€ť right before the primary. Establishment media have also said that Paul was showing lackluster campaign performance in South Carolina after he left the State last weekend to take a short break from campaigning and then traveled to Washington to vote against a debt-ceiling increase Wednesday.Â The Paul campaign says that it expects to do well on Saturday because of its dedicated supporters.
Though many candidates have dropped out of the race, the South Carolina Election Commission said nine candidates (Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Paul, Perry, Romney and Santorum) will be listed on the ballot Saturday.