Romney takes the lead in South Carolina

In the first poll taken in South Carolina  since Mike Huckabee dropped out, Mitt Romney has surged into a sizeable lead with 27% of likely Republican voters to Sarah Palin’s 18%.  Trailing Romney and Palin are Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, tied at 12%, Michele Bachmann with 9%, Ron Paul at 7% and Tim Pawlenty with 4%.  If Palin is not a candidate, Romney extends his lead to 30% compared to 15% for Gingrich and Cain, 13% for Bachmann, 10% for Paul and 5% for Pawlenty.

This latest poll suggests the nightmare scenario for anti-Romney forces–as they divide their votes almost equally and would allow Romney to pick up a critical early state with as little as 30% of the vote.  The only bright spot in this poll for opponents of Romney was that S.C. Senator Jim DeMint would handily defeat Romney 35% to 21%, if he decided to run.  This suggests that Romney’s support is soft and he can be beaten if the opposition coalesces around one candidate.

This poll was taken by Public Policy Polling on June 2 – 5 of 1,000 likely Republican primary voters.  Here’s the link: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/PPP_Release_SC_0607806.pdf .