With a surging Newt Gingrich threatening to snatch victory in South Carolina from the jaws of Mitt Romney at the last minute, voter turnout appeared mixed in the Palmetto State, according to The State newspaper.
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Turnout could be crucial to a Romney victory as the former Massachusetts governor is counting on women voters to carry South Carolina, according to Politico, which says a Romney’s support shows signs of a pronounced gender gap. Gingrich’s support among women has been consistently weak, the website said.
A tornado watch was in effect for 14 of South Carolina’s 46 counties, according to The State, which reported that a steady rain could explain why anecdotal reports from the state election commission indicated that turnout was very uneven across the state.
CNN reported that the latest poll shows Gingrich has built up a lead of 40 percent to 26 percent over Romney. The numbers document a remarkable surge by the former congressman from Georgia, according to CNN, as a poll released only 48 hours earlier by the same company, American Research Group, had the two in a statistical dead heat.
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In sign that the Romney camp is preparing to explain its defeat in South Carolina, Stuart Stevens, a Romney’s advisor, was quoted as telling CNN that his team was fully aware that it might not come in first.
"Do I think we could lose South Carolina? Sure. Of course," Stevens was quoted as saying after Thursday’s debate. "The idea should be does he have a chance in South Carolina.”
The New York Times reported that Romney, who has declined to publish his own tax returns, opened a new line of attack on Gingrich, calling on the former speaker of the House of Representatives to disclose information about payments he received as a consultant for the Federal mortgage buyer which paid him $1 million.
“I’d like to see what he advised,” Romney was quoted as saying. “He said he was an historian and just provided historical information, then he said he told them what they were doing was somehow not going to work.”
Polls are scheduled to close at 7 pm local time.