January 21, 2012 - 7:45 PM ET - Seems everyone is rushing to proclaim Newt Gingrich as the winner in today's Republican primary in South Carolina. Most of this is based on exit polling of some voters. But hold on a minute: The polls just closed at 7:00 PM ET. In the opinion of Chicago News Bench, the proclamation of Gingrich, at this point, is premature.
SEE NEWEST UPDATE HERE. SEE PREVIOUS UPDATE BELOW:
South Carolina State Election Commission, Romney was officially ahead of the pack with 47.67% (941) of the counted votes. Gingrich was trailing with 25.26% (497 votes). This is in sharp contrast to what the media say their exit polls show.
UPDATE, 7:30 PM ET:
The South Carolina State Election Commission website now shows Gingrich pulling ahead, with only two (2) counties completely reporting and six (6) partially reported.
Gingrich: 37.21% (16,201 votes)
Romney: 27.37% (11,917 votes)
Santorum: 18.86% (8,212 votes)
Paul: 14.12% (6,146 votes)
Too many of us remember when Al Gore was prematurely proclaimed the winner in 2000. You'd think the media would learn. They have not.