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South Carolina: Huntsman up, but not Romney?

Gingrich Romney

InsiderAdvantage appears to be the first out of the gate in South Carolina after Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary. As expected, South Carolina is showing movement from New Hampshire, the way New Hampshire and South Carolina showed movement from Iowa.

At least, Rick Santorum is down and Jon Huntsman is up. Sticking out though is the lack of any gain for Mitt Romney.

In fact, it looks like Romney’s lost ground. The three polls before New Hampshire had Romney at 27, 30, and 37, with 18, 9, and 7 point leads over Newt Gingrich (though one had Rick Santorum in second). But now he’s down to a tiny 23-21 lead.

In fact with the sample of 726 primary LVs, we can estimate the Margin of Error at 3.6, and my calculation estimates a 40% chance Newt Gingrich is even in the lead at this point.

Jon Huntsman seems to have gotten a bounce. His 7% is by far the highest he’s ever polled in the state. It’s almost double his previous high of 4, in fact. And yet, I think in a normal year he’d have gotten a bigger bounce than that from his New Hampshire finish.

The reason he didn’t is Ron Paul. Sean Trende made a point recently on the Twitters: he suggested that that Ron Paul is crowding out Mitt Romney’s competitors in this race. Paul shows no chance of winning for reasons I’ve mentioned previously, and also because he of all people must win this race with Gold, not Silver or Bronze, but his third place finish in Iowa and his second place finish in New Hampshire are muting the impact of the other finishes. Both of Paul’s finishes were gained by winning crossover and independent vote, but he gets the headlines anyway.

I’d like to see more polling of this race obviously. It’s possible this was just a bad one-off result for Romney. But even if Romney seems to have no momentum, no other candidate is shooting up to knock him off, either. Romney as frontrunner won’t go away. Somebody has to put him away, or he’ll simply cruise to victory.

Crossposted from Unlikely Voter

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