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Newt's Victory: Was it a "Surge" of popularity or faulty voting machines?

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By now you've heard the story a million times: The Gingrich bandwagon limps into South Carolina trailing frontrunner Mitt Romney by a full 10 points (or more), but the pugnacious Newt rallies the troops with his fiery performance at the debates turning certain defeat into a landslide victory. Woo-hoo!

By Sunday, the philandering ex-Speaker's triumphant grin can be seen plastered in headlines across the country while political pundits from both sides of the aisle scratch their heads and ponder the shocking upset that's turned the campaign into a two-man, no-holds-barred, steelcage smackdown.

Sounds exciting, doesn't it? Too bad it's all baloney.

Here's a clip from an article in FOX News mulling-over the Gingrich buzz:

"Newt Gingrich's South Carolina State co-chairman John Napier knew the 'Gingrich surge' was real last Sunday afternoon. Napier, a former U.S. Congressman and retired Federal Judge, pulled into the parking lot of the Land's End Restaurant in Georgetown, S.C. for a Gingrich event expected to draw 25-30 people. Instead, over 350 people showed up before others had to be turned away. Napier said, 'There were people there we hadn't seen since Reagan ran.' Napier should know. He was swept into Congress from a rural district in SC in 1980 on the coattails of the Reagan Revolution." (Newt -- Gingrich wins South Carolina primary by uniting Reagan Republicans, Fox News)

Oh, yeah; they're packing them in for Newtster, just like they did for the Gipper.

Are you kidding me -- a "Gingrich surge"? That's a bit of a stretch, don't you think? Gingrich attracts about as much attention as McCain did on his dismal "whistlestop" tour across the country in 2008. Do you remember that fiasco? Every time the disfigured senator from Arizona pulled into a stop, there were maybe 15 or 20 elderly white guys with their baseball caps cinched around their ears grimacing darkly at the 100 or so reporters from the major media who had gathered to cover the event. There were more journalists than ordinary people! What a joke.

Do you really want to talk about the "Gingrich surge"? Then get a load of this article in Saturday's Washington Post:

"Poor attendance leads Gingrich to cancel appearance at College of Charleston arena...

"Newt Gingrich has cancelled a campaign appearance in South Carolina because of poor attendance....

"There were just a few dozen people in the audience at the College of Charleston's arena, where the event was taking place. The conference has suffered from low attendance all week but Gingrich rival Rick Santorum went ahead and addressed the group on Thursday." (Washington Post)

Oh dear. So much for the "Gingrich is popular" theory, eh?

And this whole rigmarole about "swarms of tea partiers, evangelicals, and young white men" flocking to this washed-up narcissist is utter hogwash. For some reason, liberals are stuck on the idea that there's a secret army of ignoramuses who only emerge from their spiderholes at electiontime so they can gum-up the balloting. It's total nonsense; another groundless media invention. Newt Gingrich has no base of support; he is a mind-numbingly tedious person with zero charisma. And that's why I think something else is going on.

But what would that be?

Well, the first place to look would be at the exit polls or at the precinct results. My guess is that we'd learn a lot more about Saturday's "surprise victory" through a credible vote count than by attributing it to Romney's troubles at Bain or Gingrich's electrifying personality. (Har, Har...)

Anyway, I thought this might be of interest to those of you (like me) who feel that there's more here than meets the eye. Here's an excerpt from a post at Bev Harris's Black Box Voting:

"In South Carolina, 100% of election results will be redirected through a private Barcelona, Spain-owned company, Scytl/SOE Software, before being reported to the public.

"There is only one way to immediately find out whether Scytl/SOE reported the right results*, and that is for members of the public to capture evidence of reported precinct results when polls close tonight. Think of it as a giant neighborhood watch....

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Mike is a freelance writer living in Washington state.

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