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January 27, 2015

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Presidential Race 2012:

Gingrich’s South Carolina win puts Nevada in position of power



Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich speaks during his caucus night rally as his wife, Callista, looks on in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 3.

Gingrich wins South Carolina primary

KSNV coverage of Newt Gingrich's victory in South Carolina, Jan. 21, 2012.

Remember Wednesday? When Mitt Romney was poised to win South Carolina, becoming the first non-incumbent Republican in history to take every early GOP presidential contest in a sweep that would render Nevada all but moot by the time the caucuses swung out West?

What a difference just a few days makes.

Newt Gingrich’s South Carolina win Saturday — combined with the revelation earlier this week that Rick Santorum actually won Iowa — has split the spoils of this GOP nominating contest so fully that there’s no way the early states, even once Florida votes, will have unequivocally determined a front-runner, putting Nevada back in position of influence in picking a presidential candidate.

"This speaks volumes for Nevada's relevance. ... No matter who takes Florida, Nevada is vital," Nevada GOP chairwoman Amy Tarkanian said Saturday night. "I'm very excited."

Gingrich staged a decisive victory in South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary Saturday after managing to overcome a double-digit point deficit in just a few days. But what’s more significant is how he did it: by coalescing the conservative Republican vote.

The search for a true blue conservative (who bleeds red, of course) has made the Republican presidential selection extremely volatile this cycle: Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Gingrich and Santorum have all taken turns being the top conservative of choice but as a group splintered the vote too fully to overtake Romney’s solid core of supporters.

Click to enlarge photo

Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann are seen during the GOP presidential debate sponsored by CNN on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011, at the Venetian.

Over the course of the GOP primary contests, the field of non-Romney conservative candidates has winnowed from five to two: only Gingrich and Santorum remain.

But though Santorum was the one coming into South Carolina with a win under his belt, the Palmetto State and its above-average complement of religious conservatives anointed Gingrich their pick.

Perry endorsed Gingrich as he was bowing out of the race Thursday. Crowds gave him standing ovations at a debate later Thursday night. And Gingrich didn’t just squeak out a win: he trounced Romney by double digits, leading him by a wide margin among both those voters who self-identified as “very conservative” and those who described themselves as more middle of the road conservatives, according to exit polling — which could spell trouble for Romney in Florida.

"Make no mistake about it, this was a landslide victory!" Gingrich's South Carolina chair Billy Wilkins said to a crowd of Gingrich supporters. "The political equivalent of a tsunami."

"With your help, we are now moving onto Florida and beyond," Gingrich added to the crowd of supporters, who greeted him with cheers of, "Newt can win!"

It all depends on how far Gingrich can carry this newfound momentum — and how far it keeps him going determines what sort of stamp Nevada will put on the Republican nominating process in the end.

Florida isn’t as conservative as South Carolina, nor is Gingrich as well organized as Romney is in the land of sunshine and oranges.

The available numbers also suggest Romney is doing fine in Florida. The most recent CNN/Time poll, published Wednesday, put his share of the vote at 43 percent, with Gingrich at only 18 percent. But that same poll gave Santorum 19 percent of the vote — a split between conservatives that’s likely flipped given the events of the last few days.

Though Santorum has made no motion to signal he’ll drop out, if Gingrich can coalesce the conservative vote in Florida as he did in South Carolina, it’s enough to present a serious challenge to Romney’s considerable lead.

Floridians began heading to the polls Saturday for an early voting period; final votes in the state come Jan. 31, just four days before Nevada holds its caucuses on Feb. 4.

If Florida selects Romney, he’ll still need a strong win in Nevada — where he’s supposed to win anyway, given his immense popularity in 2008 — to solidify his front-runner status and launch him across the rest of the West before the bulk of Super Tuesday states vote in early March.

But if Gingrich wins Florida — or comes close — he will look to shake things up further in Nevada, where he’s already committed to begin campaigning by Feb. 2, and where the gap between himself and Romney, compared to other states, has been awfully small.

There has been no polling in Nevada since mid-December. But the last poll put Romney just four points ahead of Newt Gingrich, 33 percent to 29 percent. Gingrich managed to make up a much larger deficit than that Saturday — and he didn’t have the sort of deep-pocketed friends in South Carolina he does in Nevada.

Click to enlarge photo

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talks to Sheldon Adelson after addressing a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, April 2, 2011.

Gingrich’s most devoted supporter in Nevada is Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. Adelson has supported Gingrich and Winning the Future, the political action committee that backs the former Speaker, generously during this campaign cycle, and is a very influential voice in Nevada Republican politics.

South Carolina has a saying that it picks presidents. Nevada’s Republican electorate may look nothing like South Carolina’s, but given the way things are going this election season, it’s poised to determine whether or not the adage is true.

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  1. Uncle Newtie...
    Are you South Carolina Tea-Nuts...NUTTY???

    Well, then I guess you got your guy...

    Paul Krugman: Newt Gingrich Is 'A Stupid Man's Idea Of What A Smart Person Sounds Like'...
    (heh heh)

    Newton is also a Super-Sized EGOMANIAC.

  2. If you like Newt or not, he scored a major victory tonight against all Romney's money and establishment backing. If he can keep it together and take down Romney with the entire establishment against him.
    He will destroy Obama and his bumbling sidekick in the debates and general election. He may flame out long beforehand from self inflicted wounds. But it will sure make things interesting for awhile.

  3. "Thanks to South Carolina we can all count on another four years of Obama!" rabmag

    What, why would you think that? Because they did not hand another anointed candidate the nomination. Think back to Bob Dole versus Bill Clinton or more modern Mccain versus Obama. Neither turned out too well if you are a Republican.

    If you think this is going to be a nice election, think again Obama is one of the dirtiest players in the game. He beat the Clinton's and they were the best at it. Hell they even made Bill Clinton out to be a racist.

    Mitt Romney will get eaten up, if he gets to play in the big game. Newt is the only one in the game with the chops and chin to take a few hits and keep fighting.

  4. If based solely on the most experienced candidate Newt will win. Question is will people want the best leader or the cleanest closet. There is going be some dirt dug up on Obama, time is coming for the Chicago ghosts to come out.

  5. In the South Newt wife Calista would ordinarily be considered a "Hussey" (a younger woman sleeping around with a married man), however anytime you can play The Race Card to southern Republicans the advantage is yours. I see serious danger ahead with Newt attempting to polarize the country among racial lines. We all know the Real Problem is Jobs and financial disparity - The 1% and the 99%.

  6. "..more wives than the GOP has ideas." Lmao!
    Um, I'm a lefty but even I know that not only is Ron Paul still very much in the race, he has a very good chance to screw everything up by winning Nevada. What is up with the press and it's seemingly blind vision when it comes to this man? Ask Sue Lowden if Paul is a real political force. The Nevada GOP is not allowing same day registration at its caucus for one reason only, Ron Paul and his legion of supporters who have been waiting four years for this moment. As a hard core democrat, I heartily say, "Go get 'em Ron Paul, kick their establishment butts!"

  7. Newt has nothing to hide. He has been outed, tarred and feathered and is still in the race.

    Obama?? He has most of his past locked up, in hiding and nobody is talking. why?? He also has a lot to explain that his teleprompter is refusing to answer.

    How can you support an American Homeland terrorist? Why did your wife hate America until she got the company credit card and private jet. Now she loves America??

    Why, after three years as leader, nothing is still your fault??

    And 48% to 23% is not a "win".. its a landslide...

  8. "This speaks volumes for Nevada's relevance. ... No matter who takes Florida, Nevada is vital," Nevada GOP chairwoman Amy Tarkanian said Saturday night. "I'm very excited."

    More like "This speaks volumes for Nevada's" GOP hypocrisy. How long ago did this state turn against its own GOP senator for having an affair? Yet here's Gingrich on display claiming victory with his own co-adulterer by his side. That's if the media is to be believed for its recent interviews with his X.

    "Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them." -- Barry Goldwater, November, in John Dean's 1994 "Conservatives Without Conscience"

  9. <<There is going be some dirt dug up on Obama, time is coming for the Chicago ghosts to come out>>

    Hey Fritz - you KNOW this AS FACT??? You make that statement as if you have the inside track on these "Ghosts".

    Geez, Does Obama have Cayman Islands accounts, too???

    If there are "ghosts", the "ghosts" would have been exposed in 2008. Don't be so naieve that the Republicans didn't try, but since there was nothing to dig up, gave up. And PLEASE do NOT bring up the fiasco with Rod Blagoyevich (or however the hell he spells his name) or the BS about Obama's birth certificate.

    IF Romney and Gingrich are all the Republicans have to offer - you guys are in big trouble!!

  10. Why no mention of Ron Paul in this article? He blows Obama out of the water.

  11. I'm glad Amy Tarkanian is "very excited". What exactly makes Nevada's GOP caucus "vital" to the nomination process, Ms Tarkanian?