(Updates with additional poll findings starting in third paragraph. For more 2012 campaign news, see ELECT.)
Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Mitt Romney leads Newt Gingrich by 10 percentage points among likely voters in South Carolina’s Jan. 21 Republican presidential primary, a drop in the margin he had earlier this month, a CNN/Time/ORC International poll shows.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and business executive, was backed by 33 percent, while Gingrich, a onetime U.S. House speaker, had 23 percent, according to the poll released today.
Taken Jan. 13-17, the poll shows former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania with 16 percent, followed by U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas at 13 percent and Texas Governor Rick Perry at 6 percent.
The survey had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percentage points.
In a similar poll taken Jan. 4-5, Romney had 37 percent, followed by Santorum at 19 percent and Gingrich at 18 percent.
Romney, 64, won the first two nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire earlier this month.
In Florida, site of a Jan. 31 primary, Romney has the backing of 43 percent of likely voters, the CNN poll shows. Santorum was next with 19 percent, followed by Gingrich at 18 percent and Paul at 9 percent. The margin of error for the Florida survey was plus-or-minus 5 percentage points.
The contest in South Carolina is playing out in an economic environment that’s worse than the national average. The state’s unemployment rate was 9.9 percent in November, the most recent month available, compared with December’s national rate of 8.5 percent. That was high enough to put South Carolina in the top 10 states for the most unemployment in November.
The November unemployment rate in Florida was 10 percent. Nevada had the nation’s highest unemployment rate in November at 13 percent.
--Editors: Don Frederick, Laurie Asseo
To contact the reporter on this story: John McCormick in Hilton Head, South Carolina at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at email@example.com