South Carolina Primary Preview

State: South Carolina

Type of election: Primary

How it works: South Carolina is a pretty standard primary. Independents are allowed to vote in either primary and are expected to participate in relatively high numbers in the Republican primary.

Official election results: South Carolina State Election Commission

Republican candidates: Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum (all others have dropped out or are polling at less than 1 percent)

Democratic candidates: Barack Obama

Previous performance: In 2008, Romney finished fourth in the Republican primary to John McCain, receiving 15 percent of the vote. Paul finished fifth with 3.6 percent. Obama won the Democratic primary with 55 percent.

Newspapers: Charleston Post and Courier, Greenville News, The State (Columbia), full list

Television stations: Full list

Other websites: Politico, SC GOP

Progressive blogs: The Politics of Jamie Sanderson, SC Forward Progress, SC Prog Blog

Progressives on Twitter: Tyler Jones, Jamie Sanderson, SC Forward Progress

Media blogs: SC Hotline, Schuyler Kropf/Yvonne Wenger

Latest polling: Most recent from each polling organization:

  • PPP: Gingrich 40 percent, Romney 26, Santorum 16, Paul 13
  • YouGov: Gingrich 33, Romney 29, Paul 18, Santorum 16
  • We Ask America: Gingrich 32, Romney 28, Paul 13, Santorum 9
  • Clemson: Gingrich 32, Romney 26, Paul 11, Santorum 9
  • Insider Advantage: 32, Romney 29, Paul 15, Santorum 11
  • Rasmussen: Gingrich 33, Romney 31, Paul 15, Santorum 11
  • Tarrance Group: Romney 37, Gingrich 30, Paul 11, Santorum 10
  • ARG: Gingrich 33, Romney 32, Paul 19, Santorum 9
  • Ipsos: Romney 35, Gingrich 23, Santorum 15, Paul 13
  • 20/20 Insight: Gingrich 29, Romney 24, Santorum 16, Paul 14
  • NBC: Romney 31, Gingrich 26, Paul 17, Santorum 13

    Nate Silver gives Gingrich a 82 percent chance of winning, followed by Romney at 18 percent. All other candidates are at 0 percent chance to win according to Silver.

    Wild card: Stephen Colbert and Herman Cain have been having fun with South Carolina. Will voters take them seriously enough to affect the outcome? Probably not.

    Bottom line: A Romney win pretty much seals the deal for him, since his major opponents have, for a while, put everything into South Carolina. A victory by Gingrich could propel him to front-runner status, but it remains to be seen if he has the infrastructure or money to compete in upcoming states. It's hard to see how Santorum stays in if he finishes in an expected fourth place.

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