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GOP primary: Gingrich carries county as turnout soars

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Newt Gingrich won Georgetown County as well as the state in Saturday's GOP presidential primary, with the local turnout jumping 45 percent from 2008.

The former house speaker had 45.6 percent or 4,387 out of the 9,624 votes cast in the county, according to the unofficial results. Turnout was up 45 percent from the last GOP primary, although in 2008 both Republicans and Democrats went to the polls to pick the party nominees. Turnout was 23.6 percent in the county and averaged about 30 percent in the nine precincts on Waccamaw Neck. The highest turnout was in Pawleys Island 5, which votes at Waccamaw High School, where turnout hit 37.1 percent of its 2,513 registered voters.

Gingrich, who campaigned in Georgetown six days before the vote, led former Gov. Mitt Romney by 1,148 votes in the county. The margin was closer on Waccamaw Neck, which accounted for over half of Saturday's turnout.

Romney narrowly won in Pawleys Island 4, which votes at St. Mary's AME Church, and at Pawleys Island 5. He got 38.4 percent of the Waccamaw Neck vote, compared with 26.7 percent in the western part of the county.

In 2008, Romney finished third in the county behind John McCain and Mike Huckabee, though he was second among Waccamaw Neck voters.

The former Massachusetts governor was the favorite in early polls this year, but finished with 27.8 percent of the statewide vote to Gingrich's 40.5 percent. Rick Santorum had 17 percent and Ron Paul had 13 percent.

Santorum, a former Senator from Pennsylvania, and Paul, a congressman from Texas, didn't fare as well on Waccamaw Neck as they did in the state. Santorum had 11.8 percent of the local vote. Paul had 6.3 percent.

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