But could there still be a surprise?
It’s voting day in the Republican primary in South Carolina and the latest telephone poll, from PPP, suggests that the ex-house speaker, Newt Gingrich is going to win by a big margin. The figures are Newt 37%: Mitt 28%: Santorum 16%: Paul 14%.
The survey took place over three days and the responses from those interviewed yesterday, after the final debate and the TV interview with Gingrich’s second ex-wife, had a split of 40% to 26%. Other final polls have Gingrich with sizeable margins.
What’s remarkable is the dramatic turnaround that we’ve seen in the past seven days. A week ago PPP had Romney with a comfortable five point lead and the ex-governor of Massachusetts looked all set to make it three out of three in the first states to decide.
Now, following the official verified Iowa result that gave it to Santorum, Romney could end the first phase of this fight with just one state
A Reuters/Ipsos online poll published last Saturday had Romney winning South Carolina by 21 points.
The scale of the polling turnaround in South Carolina is unprecedented and old hands in the US polling industry, like Mark Blumenthal, are urging caution. Clearly things are highly volatile.
There have, however, been some pretty dramatic events including two TV debates when Newt was judged to have performed particularly well. Mitt has been hit by the equivocal way that he has dealt with his personal tax issues, answers which on Thursday night led to him being booed by some in the audience at the final debate.
Voting closes at midnight UK time when we should get the first exit polls.
The betting odds have reflected the dramatic changes. On Tuesday I got on Gingrich at just under 6/1. As I write he’s now 1/7 on Betfair.
Mike Smithson @MikeSmithsonOGH