129591092 CBS News: Gingrich Wins S.C. Primary, Romney In Second

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich speaks during a Republican presidential debate on October 18, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A CBS News analysis of exit polls and early vote totals show that Newt Gingrich has defeated Mitt Romney in the South Carolina primary.

According to CBS News, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are fighting for third place in the primary.

Head over to CBSNews.com for more in-depth coverage of the primary, including this piece of analysis that breaks down how Gingrich raced to the top:

Gingrich’s win was due in large part to his strong performance in two debates in the state this week. Nearly two in three GOP primary voters said the debates played an important role in their decision, and more than half (53 percent) made up their minds in the last few days, according to exit poll data.

Among these late-deciders, Gingrich was the clear favorite: 45 percent backed him, compared to 24 percent for Romney and 19 percent for Rick Santorum. And among the 64 percent who said the debates were an important factor, 50 percent backed Gingrich, while just 23 percent were backing Romney.

When Gov. Rick Perry withdrew his name from the presidential race earlier this week, the former U.S. Speaker of the House was who he endorsed.