Whoa. NBC News just projected Newt Gingrich as the winner in South Carolina. And CNN's exit poll shows Newt winning comfortably. Is he the political cat with nine lives? And is the G-O-TEA ready for yet another shakeup as primary season rolls on?
More from MSNBC:
Gingrich's performance in South Carolina was driven in thanks to late deciders, who broke decisively in his direction in the last few days of the campaign. That stretch saw two debate performances by Gingrich, on Monday and Thursday nights. Almost two-thirds of voters said the debates were an important factor in their decision, and Gingrich won about half of them.
More broadly, core elements of the GOP base in South Carolina – conservatives, Tea Party supporters and evangelical Christians – broke for Gingrich. And the former speaker even edged Romney in two important constituencies for the former Massachusetts governor: voters who said electability in November was their most important concern in a nominee, and voters who said the economy was their top issue.
The results upset the conventional wisdom in the race, which had set expectations for Romney to score a knockout blow against his competitors with a win in the Palmetto State.
Gingrich’s victory reshapes the race, at a minimum extending the primary contest through the Jan. 31 primary in Florida. The South Carolina results underscore Romney’s lingering inability to overcome skepticism from conservatives about electing him as their standard-bearer against President Obama this fall.
So in other words, "The Base" is just not that into Mittens. Tonight should be fun. Stay tuned. ;-)
Before we hear any crazy spin on this, let's remember this: Mittens and his Super-PACs outspent everyone else in South Carolina. They spent more than any two campaigns (+ aligned Super-PACs) combined, yet he's still getting a big thumping tonight.
And what's really interesting here is that despite Mittens having more money on his side, Newt succeeded in attacking Romney from all sides with his "Massachusetts Moderate" and Bain Capital one-two punch. He really boxed Romney in as "the rich lib'rul elitist", and it really hurt Romney in this Deep South state.
In many ways, Newt Gingrich really is "The Republican Id". Here's what I'm talking about:
And don't forget this:
Newt has mastered the "politics of resentment", and he used racism and xenophobia to propel himself (back) to the top of the polls in South Carolina.
Want to know just how badly Mittens lost in South Carolina? Take a look at CNN's exit poll data. Whoa. Romney got creamed among "tea party" voters, Christian fundamentalists, and pretty much every other group that defines the G-O-TEA base... Except one. Mitt did win among voters who earn $200,000 or more per year, so he's still the official candidate of the elite 1%.
The Daily Beast reminds us of South Carolina's sordid and lurid history of "dirty tricks campaigning". Both Romney and Gingrich did plenty of that there, but ultimately Gingrich's proved to be more effective. And just as I had suspected last week, Bain Capital was ultimately a big part of Newt taking down Mitt. It may have seemed weird to outsiders to see Newt and his allies hit Romney over Bain, then hit Romney over social issues, but that's how they made him anathema to white working class Republicans.