An InsiderAdvantage poll conducted Wednesday night has former House Speaker Newt Gingrich now leading the Republican primary race in South Carolina.
The poll of likely Republican primary voters has Gingrich with 32 percent, ahead of Mitt Romney who trailed close behind at 29 percent.
“It means that the race is up for grabs,” declared InsiderAdvantage chief pollster Matt Towery in an exclusive interview with Newsmax shortly after the poll was conducted.
The results are a significant reversal for Romney, who had led the polls before Monday's Fox News debate. A poll conducted by InsiderAdvantage last Sunday
showed Romney with a double-digit lead over Gingrich.
Towery, who predicted the outcome of the Iowa caucuses, and who has never missed on his final poll in South Carolina, said that Gingrich is now leading among men ages 27 to 34.
He is also leading among voters who identified themselves as independents by a margin of 33 percent, followed by Paul with 26 percent and Romney with 15 percent.
“If that stays in that direction he will win this primary,” according to Towery. “But Newt Gingrich is his own worst enemy. He needs to stay on message and shut up.”
The InsiderAdvantage poll is the first major South Carolina survey after the debate. Gingrich has been crediting with winning the debate.
The poll found that support for Ron Paul and Rick Santorum is faltering, with both pulling 15 and 11 percent, respectively.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry finished last with just 3 percent of the vote. Three percent of those polled selected "other candidate" and 7 percent said they had no opinion.
The survey polled 718 registered Republican voters.
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