"I think South Carolina is very, very wide open," said Van Hipp, a former state Republican Party chairman. "Perhaps more than I've ever seen before."
Since its inception in 1980, the South Carolina primary has decided the eventual Republican presidential nominee. The 2012 contest is scheduled for Feb. 28, a week before Super Tuesday.
Rep. Tim Scott is hosting a series of town hall meetings in his district for the presidential hopefuls.
"I think the field is indeed full of talented people, and ultimately they haven't spent enough time engaging the voter to make a decision," Scott said. "I think it's now time to begin focusing as much energy in South Carolina as they do any other place."
Scott said candidates must build a "home-field advantage" in the state, which other Republicans said Perry did when he launched his campaign in South Carolina and Bachmann has developed by her frequent visits to the state.
Several other events before the primary could determine the winner, including U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint's Labor Day forum and Gov. Nikki Haley's planned endorsement before the primary, The Hill said.
A CNN-ORC poll released Monday reinforced Perry's standing as the front-runner in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
Thirty-two percent of Republicans named Perry as the candidate they'd most like to see win the nomination, results indicated. Eighteen percent of Republicans said they would like to see Romney win and 12 percent cited Bachmann as their choice. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was favored by 7 percent and Rep. Ron Paul by 6 percent.
The CNN poll is the second to place Perry atop the field, following a Gallup poll released last week.
The results are based on nationwide telephone surveys of 930 adults conducted Wednesday and Thursday. The margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.