What to Expect in South Carolina
Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz managed to trump (no pun intended) their rivals in the Iowa caucus. Hillary then suffered a crushing defeat to Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire while Donald Trump pulled ahead to win with 35.3% over John Kasich (second) and Ted Cruz (third). What can we expect for the next primary?
South Carolina will hold its GOP primary on February 20th and its Democratic primary on the 27th. Nevada holds its primary at the same time, with the Dems casting votes on the 20th and Republicans on the 23rd. South Carolina is sure to be exciting for Donald Trump, who holds a double-digit lead over primary rival Ted Cruz. The Texas Senator, however, has spent considerable time winning support from the southern states and could manage to come out on top.
“Cruz is appealing to the electorate there and if you take that and combine it with the fact that he actually has a very, very good data operation, it makes it dangerous for Trump,” says Trump-supporter Seth Weathers. “If it were anywhere but South Carolina, I’d be extremely worried, but I’m only slightly worried, because of the confidence I have in his team there.”
Marco Rubio flew in under the radar with 23.1% in Iowa and just 10.6% in New Hampshire. He is confident, however, that he can win the Palmetto State. “We’re going to win this campaign,” he announced on the Today Show. “We’re going to win this primary. It’s important for the country and I’m fired up about that.”
In regards to Donald Trump, Rubio remarked, “Donald Trump is not going to be the Republican nominee…ultimately to be president you can’t just go around telling people what’s wrong, you have to tell people how you’re going to fix it.”
Ohio Governor John Kasich surprised the nation when he won second place in New Hampshire (with 15.8%), but analysts don’t think he has enough support to stay in the race much longer. “I don’t think it is realistic to expect anything out of John Kasich in South Carolina,” says GOP strategist Bruce Haynes. “What New Hampshire did was extend the life of the Bush campaign and set South Carolina up as a test that Rubio needs to pass.”
“Iowa and New Hampshire are the semifinals. South Carolina is the playoffs,” he continues. “It’s the place where someone takes charge.” South Carolina has a history of picking the Republican candidate who goes on to be nominee. Many believe this will be a turning point for Donald Trump – and the only chance his rivals have to stop him.
While Ted Cruz believes he is the only candidate who has the ability to defeat Donald Trump, Marco Rubio remains confident despite his underwhelming performance during the most recent debate that likely cost him votes in New Hampshire. “I know many people are disappointed. I’m disappointed with tonight,” Rubio said after the debate. “I want you to understand something. Our disappointment tonight is not on you, it’s on me. It’s on me. I did not do well on Saturday night, so listen to this: That will never happen again.”
His poor performance in New Hampshire will leave a mark, however, and will not easily be overcome. “Iowa only means so much. You gotta make it pay off somewhere and with New Hampshire gone, South Carolina looms larger than before. And that’s gonna be a knife fight,” says Republican strategist Terry Holt.