GOP South Carolina Primary Results: Newt Gingrich declared winner
The votes have been counted in South Carolina. Voters in the Palmetto State have selected their choice for the GOP nomination: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
The polls have officially come to a close and the counties are reporting the numbers. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has won the South Carolina Republican Primary.
CNN broke down the results: Gingrich took 40 percent of the vote, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney got 27 percent. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum attracted 17 percent of the vote, and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas had 13 percent.
In his victory speech, Gingrich said
: "It is very humbling and very sobering to have so many people who so deeply want their country to get back on the right track -- so many people who are so concerned about jobs, about medical costs, about the everyday parts of life, and who feel that the elites in Washington and New York have no understanding, no care, no concern, no reliability, and in fact do not represent them at all."
The polls closed at 7 p.m. EST and 25 delegates are up for grabs in the first southern GOP primary of the year.
Gingrich's win sets a unique precedent: As the Washington Post writes
, this year we see for the first time a different Republican candidate winning each of the first trio of contests, "still further evidence of how unsettled and dissatisfied the party’s voters are in a year when they are anxious to unseat a vulnerable incumbent president."
The New York Times adds
another wrinkle to this idea: "If nothing else, the fact that just over half of South Carolina voters said in exit polls that they made up their minds at the last minute shows just how fluid and restive the Republican electorate remains — a troubling sign for Mr. Romney that Mr. Gingrich is now poised to capitalize upon."
The next primary will be on Jan. 31 in Florida. According to Real Clear Politics
averages, Romney is leading in Florida by a wide margin with more than 40 percent. Gingrich is polling second with 22 percent, which is followed by Santorum, who has 15 percent. Paul trails with only nine percent.
As of Saturday, Romney leads the field with 14 delegates, while Paul is a close second with 10. Santorum maintains eight delegates and Gingrich has two delegates. A Republican candidate needs 1,144 delegates to win the nomination.
Please note that this is a breaking news story. Please check back throughout the night for frequent updates.
Below are the specific polling numbers for the remaining four candidates (94 percent reporting):
Newt Gingrich: 209,193 votes 40 percent
Ron Paul: 69,303 votes 13 percent
Mitt Romney: 139,791 votes 27 percent
Rick Santorum: 89,815 votes 17 percent
Delegate count update:
Newt Gingrich: 20
Ron Paul: 11
Mitt Romney: 19
Rick Santorum: nine
Below are results from three randomly selected counties thus far:
Newt Gingrich: 14,786 votes 33 percent
Ron Paul: 6,307 votes 14 percent
Mitt Romney: 16,150 votes 36 percent
Rick Santorum: 6,653 votes 15 percent
Newt Gingrich: 15,866 votes 37 percent
Ron Paul: 5,768 votes 13 percent
Mitt Romney: 13,379 votes 31 percent
Rick Santorum: 7,823 votes 18 percent
Newt Gingrich: 1,274 votes 57 percent
Ron Paul: 134 votes six percent
Mitt Romney: 496 votes 22 percent
Rick Santorum: 311 votes 14 percent
Exit polls suggested that the most important issue for South Carolina voters was the economy. Meanwhile, the most important quality to voters that each candidate exuded was the ability to defeat President Barack Obama.
This week, the Republican presidential field changed dramatically. After it seemed that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich lost momentum for his bid for the White House, two debate performances
helped him soar to the front of the pack in South Carolina.
Also this week, Texas Governor Rick Perry
and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman
both dropped out of the race. Perry officially endorsed Gingrich, while Huntsman endorsed former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.