The South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary will be held this Saturday, Feb. 20 and on Feb. 27 for Democrats. The Republican ballot will have the names of all candidates that were running, however only six candidates are still officially in the race. Those are Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Ben Carson and Jeb Bush. Withdrawing but names still on the ballot are: Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum.
Voters should be aware that a vote cast for any of the candidates that have dropped out of the Republican presidential race will be a wasted vote. Several candidates dropped their bid after the New Hampshire primary held recently, narrowing a field from an original twelve to six.
The South Carolina primary has become one of several key, “early-state” presidential primaries in the process of the Democratic and Republican Parties choosing their respective general election nominees for President of the United States.
Historically, this primary election has been much more important in the Republican Party’s nomination process, considered a “firewall” that would permanently eliminate any/all serious rivals to the front-runner. According to Wikipedia, it was designed to stop the momentum of any insurgent candidate(s) who threatened to catch or overtake the Republican establishment’s preferred choice to win the nomination, especially those who had strong showings in the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries. It is meant to force the various factions of the party to decide quickly on and unite behind a single candidate and avoid wasting time and resources on a drawn-out battle between their own candidates, that would divert the party’s focus from working to defeat the Democrats’ likely nominee.
Since its 1980 inception, the winner of the Republican South Carolina primary has become the eventual Republican National Convention nominee for the general election in November. One exception, the 2012 primary, in which eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney finished second, behind winner Newt Gingrich, who would go on to suspend his campaign before that summer’s convention began.
South Carolina has cemented its place as the “First in the South” primary for both parties. For the Democrats, the 2008 primary took on added significance because it was the first nominating contest in that cycle in which a large percentage, 55 percent, according to an exit poll of primary voters, were African Americans.
On the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Willie Wilson will appear on the SC ballot. Martin O’Malley recently withdrew from the race.