72
      Sunday
      86 / 71
      Monday
      86 / 73
      Tuesday
      85 / 74

      No favorite for First in the South primary

      Two Republican presidential hopefuls suspended their campaigns in South Carolina. But with one day left until the "First in the South" primary, the race still lacks a clear-cut front runner.

      Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney had steam coming into the state, but his win in the Iowa Caucus may not be a win at all. Iowa now says Senator Rick Santorum won that state. Romney was declared the winner in New Hampshire.

      Coming off of his showing at the Republican presidential debates in Myrtle Beach and Charleston, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has gained popularity and the polls show it.

      "They're fairly reliable," said Coastal Carolina University Political Professor Paul Peterson, when talking about the research polls trying to gauge who will win in South Carolina.

      "They all show things trending Gingrich's way. They all show Gingrich going up, and they show not Romney going down so much. He's not losing much, but they show Romney plateauing at the 30-31 percent level."

      The fact that Gingrich's numbers are climbing will help the former House Speaker, said Peterson. "There's reasons for his peaking. I would think that the undecided vote would break in an uneven way for Gingrich."

      Some said they'll opt out of casting a ballot on Saturday even though all registered voters, Republican or not, can vote.

      "Since this ain't as big as the presidential election, I feel like it ain't that important," said Myrtle Beach resident Keith McCollum. "My vote isn't really going to make a difference. So why waste that time to vote?"

      While some will wait for November, others say choosing a Republican presidential nominee is just as important as choosing the commander-in-chief.

      "I think we need to vote on this campaign so we can get to the next one," said Jane Shirreffs-Durkin of Myrtle Beach. "I think everyone should make a few minutes and really get out there."

      On Monday, John Huntsman dropped out of the race and was soon followed by Texas Governor Rick Perry, with his announcement on Thursday.

      Peterson said their withdrawls won't make much of a difference.

      "Probably not much significance," said Peterson. "We can anticipate most the Huntsman vote, what maybe 1000 people, going to Romney. I would expect the Perry vote to go either to Santorum or Gingrich."

      The potential of three different candidates winning in three different states means the spotlight will be put on the primary to follow South Carolina's, said Peterson.

      "Puts a great deal of significance on Florida. Whoever would win Florida would have a huge boost in the campaign. After Florida, you have Super Tuesday. Both Super Tuesday and Florida should favor Romney because of organization and money. But stuff happens."