(The Hill) – Mitt Romney is gaining ground in South Carolina, five days ahead of that state’s primary, a new poll finds.
The InsiderAdvantage poll released Sunday night finds Romney with the support of 32 percent of likely GOP voters surveyed, a nine-point gain from its last poll, taken on Jan. 11. Gingrich stayed in second place, unchanged at 21 percent.
Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) comes third with 14 percent, followed by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum at 13, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman at 6 percent and Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 5 percent support.
Huntsman campaign sources, though, have confirmed to The Hill that he will be dropping out of the GOP contest and endorsing front-runner Romney on Monday.
“The only candidate to really gain any ground in this survey since our poll of last Wednesday night is Mitt Romney,” said InsiderAdvantage chief pollster Matt Towery to Newsmax.
Romney bested his GOP rivals among voters identifying as Republican as well as those identifying as independents. Thirty-four percent of self-identified Republicans surveyed backed Romney, ahead of second-place Gingrich who won the backing of 24 percent of those voters.
Among independents, Romney won the backing of 30 percent, with Ron Paul securing 21 percent.
Romney has faced harsh attacks in the state over his business experience as CEO of investment firm Bain Capital, with GOP rivals Gingrich and Perry as well as Democrats claiming he profited from the shuttering of businesses and layoffs of workers, but the InsiderAdvantage poll suggests Romney has not been slowed in the Palmetto State.
Romney has won both the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that if Romney won South Carolina as well, “I think it should be over.”
The results of the InsiderAdvantage survey show Romney with a bigger edge over Gingrich than a Public Policy Poll released on Friday. In the PPP poll, Romney came in at 29 percent, down one point from a poll taken prior to his New Hampshire victory, with Gingrich in second place at 24 percent.
The poll, which was conducted on Jan. 15, has a 3.8 percent margin of error.