New Poll: Gingrich Actually Leading in SC Gingrich at 34%, Romney at 28% in first night of tracking By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff Posted Jan 19, 2012 1:16 PM CST 11 comments Comments Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich talk at the end of the South Carolina Republican presidential candidate debate in Myrtle Beach, SC, Monday, Jan. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool) (Newser) – We already knew Newt Gingrich was surging in South Carolina, but a new Public Policy Poll has even more dramatic results: Last night, the first of three nights of tracking, Gingrich actually led Mitt Romney 34% to 28%. Romney's 28% is consistent with the numbers PPP has seen in previous polls, but during the past two weeks Gingrich jumped from 23% to 34%. Ron Paul was at 15%, Rick Santorum at 14%, and Rick Perry—who has since exited the race—at 5%. Gingrich's debate performance helped him: Of those who watched Monday night's debate, 43% supported Gingrich vs. 27% for Romney. Of those who did not watch, Romney leads Gingrich 29% to 22%. Perry's exit probably won't make much difference to Gingrich's numbers, considering his supporters were evenly split between Gingrich and Romney as a second choice, but Perry's endorsement of Gingrich could sway some of them. Of course, it remains to be seen how the interview with Gingrich's ex-wife—who says he wanted an open marriage—will affect his numbers.