Gingrich wins SC primary, upsets Romney

January 21, 2012 - 7:45 PM
APTOPIX Gingrich 2012

Republican presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich takes part in a TV interview during a campaign event at the Grapevine Restaurant in Spartanburg, S.C., on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012, the unpredictable voting day of the South Carolina presidential primary. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Newt Gingrich has stormed to an upset victory over Mitt Romney in the South Carolina GOP primary with a pair of strong debate performances that most voters said was important to their choice.

Within minutes, the former speaker of the House was looking ahead to the next contest Jan. 31.

"Thank you South Carolina!," he tweeted. "Help me deliver the knockout punch in Florida."

In exit polls, most voters said they made up their minds in the last few days of the campaign. Two-thirds said the debates were an important factor in their vote.

Gingrich led among the state's conservatives, tea party supporters and born-again Christians. Romney held a small advantage among moderate and liberal voters, and those who are not born-again Christians.

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