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Gingrich Coalition Could Pose Sustained Challenge to Romney Gingrich Coalition Could Pose Sustained Challenge to Romney

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Gingrich Coalition Could Pose Sustained Challenge to Romney


Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. (AP Photo/Erik Kellar)(AP Photo/Erik Kellar)

In South Carolina it appears the two tribes of the Republican Party have settled on their champions for a contest that could divide the party along clear, sharp lines of class, ideology and religious devotion.

Newt Gingrich won his commanding South Carolina victory partly by cutting into Mitt Romney's support among the groups that had favored him in earlier states, exit polls posted on CNN showed. But mostly Gingrich triumphed by consolidating the groups resistant to Romney to a greater extent than anyone had done previously.

If Gingrich can muster the organizational and financial resources to capitalize on his breakthrough, that pattern raises the possibility of an extended race with Romney in which each man mobilizes divergent but roughly equally sized coalitions.

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