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Newt Gingrich has momentum as South Carolina goes to the polls

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• It turned out that Santorum, not Romney, had won the most votes in the Iowa caucuses. In the overall scheme of things, it wasn’t a big deal. But it was a distraction that helped deflate Romney’s supposed front-runner status.

“Clearly things are collapsing” for Romney, Gallup’s Editor-in-chief Frank Newport told MSNBC.

“The margin for Romney has evaporated this week, and we believe that Gingrich will win the South Carolina primary,” says Clemson University political scientist Dave Woodard. 

That’s the prediction from two other prominent sources.

Nate Silver, who writes the closely-watched FiveThirtyEight blog at the New York Times now gives Gingrich a 64 percent chance of winning South Carolina (compared to just 36 percent chance for Romney). The prediction market Intrade (which can change moment-to-moment) says Gingrich has an 86 percent chance of winning the first southern primary.

"If we get every conservative to decide Newt Gingrich is the right person to stop a Massachusetts moderate, we will win by a surprising margin, and that's going to set the stage for us winning the nomination," Gingrich said as he campaigned Friday.

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