COLUMBIA, South Carolina—Newt Gingrich has surged three times this election cycle and collapsed twice, but tonight he’s the winner — the former Speaker of the House has pulled off a stunning upset over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Romney, who led polls by as much as 18 percentage points three weeks ago, came into the state after a decisive victory in New Hampshire and a near-victory in the Iowa caucuses, but that momentum never translated on the ground.
Gingrich, buoyed by stellar debate performances, succeeded in pulling off significant victory over Romney — despite salacious details about his second marriage put forward by his ex-wife Marianne.
The results restart a race that had been though to be over after New Hampshire, with Romney still unable to rally conservatives here — or across the country. Gingrich’s victory means this race will almost certainly remain undecided until Super Tuesday in March. Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are in a battle for a distant third-place finish.
Gingrich now has the opportunity to make the case for conservatives to coalesce around him as the most electable non-Romney candidate. If he can do that, this race may not be over anytime soon.