Mitt Romney holds a big lead over his GOP presidential rivals in South Carolina while Rick Santorum is on the upswing in the Palmetto State, according to a poll released Friday.
Some 37 percent back Romney, who eked out the narrowest of wins over Santorum in the Iowa caucuses, the CNN/Time/ORC poll
of likely Republican primary voters indicated. Santorum, at 19 percent, and Gingrich, at 18 percent, were vying for second place. But the former Pennsylvania senator was up 15 points from last month, while the former House speaker was down 25 percent from a poll in early December.
In fourth place, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has the support of 12 percent, which doubled from his 6 percent last month. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is staking his last hopes on South Carolina, had just 5 percent support.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman was at 1 percent, while 4 percent said they were undecided.
South Carolina holds its primary, the first in the South, on Jan. 21, 11 days after New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary.
The poll of 485 South Carolina voters likely to vote in the primary was conducted Jan. 4-5 for CNN and Time magazine by ORC International. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
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