Yet, while it is true that South Carolina has successfully selected every Republican nominee in our nation's history, there are significant truths inside the remarkable results of the South Carolina primary that may suggest that this race is unlike any other in the nation's history.
Trump Has Momentum, but in What Direction?
One week before the South Carolina Primary Donald Trump was leading all other candidates by more than 14 points, and seemed poised to pull of an impressive victory that would cement the notion inside the Republican party that he was indeed destined to be the Republican nominee. Yet, as the week wore on, due to an ill advised fight with the Pope, as new evidence of his liberal leanings began to be revealed, and as damning new evidence that undermines the certainty with which Donald Trump continues to asserts that he was always against the Iraq War came to light, Trump's insurmountable lead began to disappear.
Meaning that just days before the South Carolina Primary poll after poll began to show that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, the two candidates who finished in a virtual tie for second place in the state's primary, had a real shot at winning. Not only that, but even though Trump won South Carolina by a healthy margin there are several disturbing trends inside the poll results of the South Carolina Primary that should have Trump worried. Most notable of which was that among voters Marco Rubio, not Trump, is now viewed by a significantly wide margin of more than 40 points, to be the candidate most capable of winning in November. A factor that will begin to play a bigger and bigger role as the Republican Presidential Nomination race continues on. Not only that, but among late deciders in the South Carolina primary 30 percent voted for Rubio, 28 percent went for Cruz, while Trump picked up less than 10% of late deciding voters.
Thus, while Donald Trump deserves a hearty congratulations for winning the highly contested state of South Carolina, his momentum remains headed in the wrong direction ahead of the Nevada Caucuses Tuesday and with only a little over a week away from Super Tuesday.
South Carolina Results Divide Republican Field
Dr. Ben Carson and Jeb Bush have long been irrelevant candidates, despite the media's desperate attempts to suggest that their frontrunner Jeb Bush, was once the frontrunner among Republicans and the American people. An idea that was appropriately met by the reaction of the people of Iowa during the caucuses, when at a precinct they were asked if anyone wanted to speak on behalf of Jeb Bush, a question which was met with an eruption of hearty laughter.
Yet, no one could have predicted that the results of the South Carolina primary would have so decisively divided the Republican field into two tiers. With the first tier consisting of Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz, and the second tier consisting of Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Dr. Carson. With these two tiers separated by more than 14 points. As Jeb Bush, the leader among the second tier candidates, finished with 7.8%, followed by Kasich with 7.6%, and Carson with 7.2%.
A remarkably decisive divide, that was followed by an equally surprising announcement, as Jeb Bush in an act of pure class announced the suspension of his campaign Saturday night. Leaving many Republicans hopeful that despite the ill-advised determination by John Kasich and especially by Dr. Carson to continue on in the race, common sense might prevail and these ultimately irrelevant candidates follow Jeb Bush's lead, just as they followed him in the South Carolina primary results, and also suspend their campaigns for the good of the party.
Marco Rubio Makes Stunning Comeback, Cruz Disappoints
As Trump's victory and questions about his ultimate viability in the Republican Presidential Nomination race flooded the headlines, another story of equal significance emerged from the South Carolina primary. Namely, the virtual tie between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz for second place. A result that both candidates are equally touting and attempting to translate into momentum for their campaigns ahead of the Nevada Caucuses on February 23, and Super Tuesday on March 1st. However, the real truth is that despite the optimism of the two candidates Saturday's results were ultimately disappointing for Ted Cruz.
Since not only was Ted Cruz viewed by the media as the only candidate capable of challenging and defeating Trump ahead of the South Carolina Primary, he was expected to do exceptionally well among one of South Carolina's largest constituencies, evangelical Christians. However, despite these bold predictions the victory and surprisingly the evangelical support never materialized for Cruz as it had in Iowa. Not only that, but even though it was only by around 2000 votes, Ted Cruz finished not second but third behind Marco Rubio. Ahead of a string of caucuses and primaries in states where Ted Cruz's evangelical overtures won't play nearly as well as they did in Iowa and could have in South Carolina. This does not mean by any stretch of the imagination that Cruz doesn't still have a legitimate shot at becoming the Republican nominee, it simply means that his road to the nomination just became that much harder after a disappointing showing in South Carolina.
Meanwhile, Marco Rubio's campaign gained massive traction and positive momentum by finishing second in South Carolina. Especially after a disappointing showing in New Hampshire where he finished fifth, which at the time left many to legitimately wonder if his campaign was over. Now the GOP candidate has new life and appears to have the most legitimate shot at upsetting Trump for the Republican presidential nomination as the race moves on to Nevada. Due to both the fact that Rubio is viewed by a wide margin of Republicans as the candidate most capable of winning in November, and although a conservative he is also a candidate willing to play ball with the GOP establishment.
Yet, while there is no doubt that Rubio has the most momentum of any candidate coming out of South Carolina, enthusiasm over his strong showing in the state's primary should be tempered. Since Rubio received many key endorsements ahead of the South Carolina Primary, including from South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, South Carolina Junior Senator Tim Scott, and South Carolina House Representative Trey Gowdy. Key endorsements as Rubio seeks to gain establishment and party support, but endorsements that will certainly not translate as well into votes outside of South Carolina. Especially when one considers the American people's immense distrust and anger against both the parties and the politicians currently in Washington.
Ultimately, the South Carolina Primary has always been a historically remarkable indicator of the direction of the Republican Presidential Nomination race, and this primary was no different. Except for that this may be the first time in our nation's history that the winner of South Carolina does not become the Republican nominee. Something that will ultimately be decided by the American people, beginning this Tuesday in Nevada.
Think Aboot It.