With polls opening in less than 24 hours for the important South Carolina presidential primary election, the final Palmetto Poll shows Newt Gingrich leading over Mitt Romney in a gritty battle fraught with personal attacks and breaking news about the candidates’ personal lives.

That’s the finding of the third Clemson University 2012 Palmetto Poll, a sample of 429 South Carolina GOP voters who indicated they plan to vote Saturday. The telephone poll was initiated Jan. 13 and recalibrated Jan. 18-19 to measure changing dynamics. Twenty percent of the likely voters remain undecided.

“We expect a reaction by the electorate to the personal revelations about Gingrich to be registered on Saturday, however, we do not think it will be substantial enough to erase the lead Gingrich has over Romney,” said Clemson University political scientist Dave Woodard.

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