wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost

Mitt Romney storms to big lead in South Carolina as Rick Santorum stalks

at 12:32 PM ET, 01/06/2012

A new poll in South Carolina shows former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney opening up a big lead, but former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum is catching on quickly in the Palmetto State.

The CNN//Time/Opinion Research poll shows Romney at 37 percent followed by Santorum at 19 percent and former House speaker Newt Gingrich at 18 percent.

That’s a huge change from a month ago, when Gingrich led Romney 43 percent to 20 percent in South Carolina and Santorum was at just 4 percent.

Rounding out the poll are Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 12 percent, Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 5 percent and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman at 1 percent.

The CNN/Time poll suggests a post-New Hampshire race shaping up between the establishment candidate (Romney) and the conservative favorite (Santorum).

Of course, Santorum’s rise appears to be attributable almost wholly to his strong second-place showing in the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday. A full-scale review of his record has begun and will determine what kind of staying power he has in the top-tier.

South Carolina’s primary will be held Jan. 21, 11 days after Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, in which Romney is the prohibitive favorite.

 
Read what others are saying