Gingrich leads on S.C. but most think Obama will be re-elected

Newt Gingrich’s baggage doesn’t seem to be hurting him with likely voters in South Carolina’s Republican Party primary.

The Winthrop University poll, released Tuesday, shows the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives has zoomed to the top of the GOP field here among likely Republican primary voters. But the poll sent another message to Gingrich and his fellow Republican competitors: don’t pick out your Oval Office desk just yet.

About 59 percent of all those polled – Republicans, Democrats and independents – said they think it is somewhat or very likely that President Obama will be re-elected.

More than 85 percent of Democrats said they think the president is somewhat or very likely to win another term. No surprise there – they’re Democrats, and so is the president. But almost 32 percent of Republicans agreed Obama is somewhat or very likely to be re-elected.

Scott Huffmon, a political science professor at Winthrop and the director of its poll, said those Republicans think Obama is likely to win re-election if their preferred GOP candidate is not the nominee. “It’s ‘My guy has to get it, and everybody else could lose to Obama,’ ” Huffmon said.

Electability has been a factor in the GOP nomination battle and partly explains the consistent performance of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has been in the top tier of nearly every poll taken in the early-voting states of South Carolina, New Hampshire, Iowa, Florida and Nevada.

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