The Hill reports on this new Monmouth poll in South Carolina that Mitt Romney “looks poised for easy SC win.”  Of course, the poll and others like it today and tomorrow will have taken place before last night’s debate, but it still shows how steep the hill Romney’s opponents have to climb:

A new Monmouth University poll of South Carolina voters show Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney maintaining a double-digit lead over the remainder of the GOP field, further increasing the likelihood of the Massachusetts governor winning the South Carolina primary and Republican nomination.

Romney earned 33 percent support of likely Republican voters, 11 percent higher than Newt Gingrich, whose 22 percent of support was good enough for second. Rick Santorum, who Romney was able to narrowly edge in the Iowa caucuses, is earning 14 percent of voters, locking him into a struggle for third place with Ron Paul. The Texas congressman was earning 12 percent of those polled.

The Hill describes the surprising core of Romney’s support in South Carolina:

Some of Romney’s success can also be attributed to surprise support among Christian voters. The former governor is winning 29 percent of self-described evangelicals, better than Gingrich’s 26 percent and Santorum’s 19 percent. Romney also leads among voters who say the candidate who shares their values is the most important factor in picking a candidate – a surprise for Romney, who usually trails on that metric. 23 percent of values voters picked Romney, versus 19 percent for Paul, 17 percent for Santorum, and 15 percent for Gingrich.

Unfortunately, I can’t access the poll data, since the link doesn’t exist at Monmouth, and the links at RCP and the Argo Journal are faulty.  However, the Argo Journal got a look at the methodology, which sampled 962 likely primary voters in South Carolina.  The sample consisted of 69% Republicans, 30% independents, and 1% Democrats, which might have oversampled non-Republicans just a little; in 2008, exit polls showed that 23% of voters in the Republican primary were non-Republicans, but the Democrats had a meaningful primary taking place in that cycle as well.

The number of respondents makes this an extensive sample, though, and a significant result.  At least until last night’s debate, Romney has been picking up momentum in a series of polls in South Carolina, with the results almost identical to the Insider Advantage poll released yesterday, and not just for Romney but for all of the candidates in the race.  Even if Gingrich reenergized his campaign with his contentious exchange with Juan Williams in last night’s debate, it looks like he has a long way to go in five days.

Update: Monmouth was kind enough to forward me the corrected link to the survey.  A few interesting points from the crosstabs:

  • Romney leads among both Republicans (36/23 over Gingrich) and non-Republicans (26/18 over Gingrich).
  • Romney wins both men and women over Gingrich, the latter by 16 points, 35/19.
  • Romney wins among both Tea Party adherents and opponents.
  • Romney wins every age demographic; Ron Paul only scores 14% among 18-45YOs.
  • Rick Perry does not score above a 9% in any demographic category.