This cannot be good for leaders of the Religious Right. A new CNN poll among South Carolina Republicans shows that the anti-Romney vote appears to be moving in Newt Gingrich’s direction.
“Gingrich appears to be the only candidate with momentum as the race in South Carolina enters the final few days,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Support for Romney and Santorum appears to be slipping, and Paul and Perry seem flat. Gingrich, however, has gained ground and cut Romney’s lead in half since early January.”
“All of Gingrich’s increased support comes among tea party movement supporters, where he’s at 31% support, up ten points from early January,” adds Holland. “That suggests that Sarah Palin’s remarks urging South Carolina voters to choose Gingrich may have a receptive audience.”
Among voters who oppose the tea party or are neutral towards it, Romney holds a commanding 30 point lead over Gingrich and the rest of the field of candidates. The survey indicates that born-again Christians are divided, with 26% supporting Romney, 23% backing Gingrich, and 20% saying they’ll vote for Santorum. Among those likely primary voters who don’t identify themselves as born-again, Romney has a large lead.
Note that a few days after national Evangelical leaders endorsed Rick Santorum, Santorum’s poll numbers have declined in South Carolina. More South Carolina Evangelicals support Mormon Mitt Romney and mistress-having Newt Gingrich than support Santorum. What does this tell you about the power of the Religious Right old guard to move voters?