Poll: DeMint leads presidential pack in S.C.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) currently leads the pack of rumored Republican presidential hopefuls in his home state of South Carolina — a crucial early primary contest for the GOP.

New numbers out Tuesday from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling found DeMint leading among Republicans in South Carolina with 24 percent support. 

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee came in just behind DeMint at 20 percent, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 17 percent and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at 12 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) garnered just 10 percent support. 

DeMint has stirred some presidential speculation given his close ties to and popularity among the Tea Party movement, and while the senator is heading to Iowa in March to keynote a conservative event, he has shown next to no interest publicly in a 2012 presidential run. 

A DeMint adviser recently said the South Carolina senator hasn't completely ruled out a bid, but asked in an interview last week by CNN's Wolf Blitzer if he was thinking about a run next year, DeMint answered in one word: "No."  

As for the poll, DeMint's support in the state comes mostly at the expense of Huckabee. Without DeMint in the equation, Huckabee leads with 26 percent, followed by Romney at 20 percent. 

Pollster Tom Jensen also noted that support for Gingrich in the state has dropped fairly significantly since a Public Policy survey from last spring found him leading in South Carolina.

The poll surveyed 559 South Carolina Republican voters and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.1 percentage points. 

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