The latest installment in the battle for the Republican party presidential nomination saw Newt Gingrich take 40.4% of the vote while Romney took just 27.8% in the South Carolina primary.
The Guardian reports on the race:
The Republican presidential candidates were gearing up on Sunday for a gruelling and expensive battle for the party nomination, after Newt Gingrich's sensational victory in the South Carolina primary threw the race wide open.
As the candidates headed to Florida for the next contest on 31 January, Gingrich's team sent out an email to grassroots supporters calling for donations to counter rival Mitt Romney's massive spending power and deliver a "knock-out punch".
Strapped for cash, Gingrich made a "moneybomb" appeal to grassroots supporters to contribute funds over the internet in the next 48 hours.
His campaign team, in spite of talk of a "knock-out" in Florida, are anticipating what they describe as a war of attrition that will go on for months. The final contest is not until Utah on 26 June.
The South Carolina victory, which saw Gingrich take 40.4% of the vote against Romney's 27.8%, shook Romney's status as favourite to win the Republican nomination to take on Barack Obama for the White House in November. Romney has a lead of 24% over Gingrich in the latest poll in Florida but, such is the volatility of the race, that could easily evaporate.
Gingrich secured another triumph when Romney bowed to pressure to release details of his tax returns, one of the big issues of the South Carolina campaign.
But as ThinkProgress notes, he only agreed to two years of records "because of the Internet":
Fox’s Chris Wallace pressed Romney on why he would only release two years of returns when his father released twelve during his run for President. Romney said he wouldn’t release as many tax returns as his father did because that was “before the internet.”
Previously, Romney had merely said that he would release his 2011 returns when they were completed in April. By then, Romney could already be the presumptive Republican nominee, thus putting the issue beyond the reach of primary voters. In addition, the 2011 returns might not be as revealing as past year returns since Romney was already a full-time candidate for president, and could have taken steps to minimize any politically damaging tax avoidance measures.
The Hill reports that a lot more money will be spent as the primary race moves to Florida.
Florida is an expensive state to campaign in, with 10 dispersed media markets and more expensive advertising rates than any of the earlier campaigns. That could provide a particular challenge to Santorum, who has always lagged behind the other GOP candidates in terms of fundraising and is used to campaigning on a shoestring budget. If conservative elites begin to pressure Santorum — much as they did earlier this week with Rick Perry — it's plausible that he could exit the race.
Where do Romney and Gingrich stand on some key issues? The Guardian breaks it down:
Mitt and Newt: where they stand
Gingrich supports federal ban or constitutional amendment banning abortion
Romney says the issue should be left to individual states
Gingrich says he would balance the budget within five years with deep spending cuts
Romney says he would cut corporate tax rates and focus on job growth
Gingrich would starve Obama's healthcare law of cash so it cannot be implemented
Romney would issue an order giving back authority for healthcare to states
Gingrich against gay marriage, but says same-sex couples should have legal protections
Romney opposes letting gay people marry, serve in the military or any government recognition of their relationships
Gingrich says greatest danger is rise of radical Islam inside the US
Romney wants increase in US's already substantial military budget
Gingrich proposes that children should be put to work to learn the work ethic
Romney says cash handouts to the poor trap them in poverty