Newt Gingrich overwhelmingly won the South Carolina Republican presidential primary, according to projections by most of the television networks.
By any measure, it's a devastating loss to frontrunner Mitt Romney who once led in the polls by double digits hoped to finish off his rivals in the Palmetto State. If Gingrich can keep his momentum going into Florida's primary at the end of the month -- a big question -- the GOP race could once again be up for grabs.
James Carville: "Memo to Republican Establishment: Let me break it to you gently -- you've got a first-class disaster on your hands. I know you boys thought this thing would work out and you would be able to whip the Republicans in line to fall in behind Mitt (I assume you are all males but if there is a female in the establishment, I apologize.) Not going too good, is it fellows?"
Andrew Sullivan: "This is the Republican crack-up people have been predicting for years. Gingrich is on a roll. I think he can win this - and then lose this in a way that could change America history. That is a brief impression in one moment of time. But I cannot see Romney winning this at this point. They are just not into him, and he's an awful candidate."
Brad Phillips: "If Mitt Romney had won, he would have become the de facto nominee earlier than any other presidential candidate in U.S. history, meaning that he alone would have had to endure more media scrutiny - for a longer period of time - than any of his predecessors. Instead, he'll now continue to share the media's harsh glare with Newt Gingrich, a severely flawed candidate who will steal some of the limelight and help buffer Mr. Romney's coverage. More stories about Mr. Gingrich's angry ex-wife and messy leadership as House Speaker means fewer stories about Mr. Romney's tax returns and Bain Capital."
Jonathan Chait: "My view all along has been that any remotely plausible candidate could beat Mitt Romney. My current view is that there are no remotely plausible candidates, which leaves us with Newt. So we have the immovable object meeting the irresistible force, except the exact opposite. Like almost everybody outside Gingrich's immediate family, I had already written him off twice. But he really seems okay. If some really crazy rich conservatives decide to write him some seven- or eight-figure checks, who knows?"