Fasten Your Seatbelts: Gingrich Victory Ensures Long Slog to Nomination


Three contests. Three winners. Rick Santorum had Iowa. Mitt Romney had New Hampshire. And Saturday night, Newt Gingrich claimed victory in the South Carolina GOP primary. The former U.S. House speaker claimed 40 percent of the vote. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney garnered 29 percent while former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum received 17 percent and Texas Congressman Ron Paul got 13 percent.

According to exit polls, a good many South Carolinians hadn't made their minds up on which candidate to vote for until the final 24 hours running up to Saturday's primary.

Ten days ago, Gingrich's candidacy was considered by some pundits to be all but dead after his fourth-place finish in the New Hampshire primary, but his Saturday night victory reset the Republican nominating contest for its next test a week from Tuesday.

Florida includes several expensive media markets, in a state where media matters most. Romney has already poured more than $3 million into television and radio buys into the Sunshine State, and that doesn't include super PACs, who are expected to pile-on with even more pro-Romney ads. As of Saturday night, Gingrich, Santorum and Paul had yet to launch any substantive advertising in Florida.

The economy will weigh heavily on Florida voters' minds. The latest unemployment figures show Florida with a 10 percent unemployment rate, and one in every 360 housing units in foreclosure in December.