Gingrich wins most delegates in South Carolina

WASHINGTON (AP) — Newt Gingrich won nearly all of the delegates in South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary Saturday, narrowing Mitt Romney’s lead in the race for delegates to the party’s national convention this summer.

Gingrich, the former House speaker, has won at least 23 delegates of the 25 delegates at stake. Gingrich and Romney were still battling for the final two delegates.

These are the first delegates Gingrich has won in a primary or caucus. In all, Gingrich has 25 delegates, including endorsements from Republican National Committee members who will automatically attend the convention. Romney has 33 delegates and Rick Santorum has 14.

The race for delegates is still in the early stages, providing plenty of opportunity for a candidate who gains momentum to seize the lead. It will take 1,144 delegates to win the GOP nomination. Only 62 delegates were at stake in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, combined.

Florida is up next on Jan. 31, with 50 delegates up for grabs in a winner-take-all primary. There will be six contests in February, with a total of 178 delegates at stake. Super Tuesday is March 6, with more than 400 delegates at stake in 10 states.

South Carolina Republicans awarded 11 delegates to the statewide winner and two delegates to the candidate who got the most votes in each of the state’s seven congressional districts. Gingrich was the statewide winner and he won at least six congressional districts.

Romney and Gingrich were locked in a tight battle in the final congressional district with more than 90 percent of the precincts reporting. The South Carolina State Election Commission did not report the vote by congressional district, but The Associated Press was able to tally those votes.

The South Carolina Republican Party said it plans to finalize the congressional district results in the next seven to 10 days.

The Associated Press calculates the number of national convention delegates won by candidates in each presidential primary or caucus, based on state and national party rules. Most primaries and some caucuses are binding, meaning delegates won by the candidates are pledged to support that candidate at the national convention this summer.

Political parties in some states, however, use local caucuses to elect delegates to state or congressional district conventions, where national delegates are selected. In these states, the AP uses the results from local caucuses to calculate the number of national delegates each candidate will win, if the candidates maintain the same level of support.

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