"Since the inception of the South
Primary in 1980, no candidate has ever lost the South Carolina Primary
and gone on to become the Republican Party's nominee for
--South Carolina Republican Party
First in the South
South Carolina has
first in the South GOP presidential primary since 1980. In 2006
the Democratic National Committee voted to add South Carolina as
a new pre-window primary, thus affirming its
early status. The primary has acquired a reputation as a GOP
"firewall." In 1992 Pat Buchanan gained a surprisingly strong
showing in the New Hampshire primary, but President George H. W. Bush
rebounded with a strong showing in South Carolina. In 2000 Gov.
George W. Bush bounced back from his loss to Sen. John McCain in the
New Hampshire primary to defeat McCain in South Carolina. And
2008 win over former Gov. Mike Huckabee, while not overwhelming, was an
step on his road to the nomination. 2012 added a page to the
tradition when Newt Gingrich's strong win in the primary appeared to
reconfigure the race.
participate in the South Carolina Republican primary,
candidates were required to pay $25,000 before May 3, 2011 or $35,000
from May 4 to the filing deadline on November 1, 2011 at 5:00 p.m.. Ten
candidates filed to compete in the
Republican primary: Johnson (May 2),
Cain, Paul, Pawlenty and Santorum (May 3),
Huntsman (June 22), Romney (Sept. 30 +), Perry
(Oct. 27), Gingrich (Oct. 28) and Bachmann (Oct. 28 +);
Pawlenty later withdrew and did not want to appear on the ballot.
April 29 but put a stop payment on his check when it became clear he
would not be invited to participate in the May 5 debate).
Following up on Florida's announcement of its move to January 31, 2012, South Carolina Republicans opted to move forward to keep their first in the South status, even at the cost of losing half of their delegates. On October 3, 2011 GOP Chairman Chad Connelly announced Saturday, January 21, 2012 as the date of the South Carolina Republican presidential primary. The Democratic National Committee has set Tuesday, February 28, 2012 as the date of the Democratic presidential primary; South Carolina Democrats are holding to that, although it is seen as unlikely they will actually have a primary unless President Obama has a serious challenger.
Unlike in many states, in past South Carolina's presidential primaries have been party-run affairs; this posed a substantial financial and logistical challenge for the state parties which had to raise the funds privately. The tradition of Saturday voting arose to reduce costs and increase turnout. Another consequence is those high filing fees as a way to offset the cost.
In mid-2007 the General Assembly passed,
Mark Sanford (R)'s objections, a bill which required State Election
Commission to run the presidential preference primaries, while leaving
the setting of the primary dates and other details to the party
committees. The General
on June 5, 2007, Gov. Sanford vetoed the bill on June 14, and the
Assembly voted to override the veto
on June 19. The law referred specifically to
the 2008 cycle.
The issue came up again as budget negotiations
proceeded in the first half of 2011; Gov. Nikki Haley opposed efforts
by legislators to keep money in the
fund the 2012 Republican primary. (+) Haley
argued that private funds
used, and she vetoed those provisions on June 28 (Vetoes 27 and 28 of
H.3700, The General Appropriation Bill >).
estimated cost to run a presidential primary in South Carolina is $1.2
million. The January 21
GOP primary was covered by $680,000 in state funds and the state
party was to pay the rest (+).
meetings on January 28 and March 3, 2012; President Obama is the only
candidate on the ballot. (If
primary). See the South Carolina Supreme Court's
decision in Beaufort County v. SC Election Commission,
South Carolina has a population of 4.5
million. Its 46
counties stretch from the Coastal Plain to the
Piedmont Plateau (Pee Dee) to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Just
under 30 percent of
South Carolina's population consider themselves Black or African
according to the 2000 Census. There is also a significant
according to the South Carolina State Office of Veterans' Affairs
veterans make South Carolina home >.
In 2008, McCain won the primary by 33.15% to 29.84% over Huckabee; McCain won in the Southern and coastal congressional districts 1, 2 and 6 while Huckabee won in congressional districts 3, 4 and 5 comprising the Northwest half of the state. Romney achieved second place finishes in congressional districts 1 and 2.
president of the South Carolina New Democrats and founder and CEO of
Associates and Politics Online, describes his fellow Palmetto Staters
think...we're a little crazy and cantankerous, and we're always sort of
throwing a monkey wrench in the machinery, but fundamentally I think
we're a pretty good reflection of America." However, South
somewhat of a reputation for dirty tricks in politics. In 2000
there was a whispering campaign against McCain. In the 2010 cycle
there was the mystery of Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Alvin Greene,
unemployed veteran who somehow came up with a $10,000 filing fee.
Several of the 2012 Republican presidential prospects
campaigned for one or
another of the candidates in the June 8, 2010 gubernatorial
Romney was first to endorse then state Rep. Nikki Haley, in March 2010
(Haley backed Romney's 2008 campaign, serving as a co-chair of his
Women's Leadership Team >.
be something of a mixed blessing.
(In 2008 DeMint backed Romney and Graham backed McCain).
The much commented upon slow start to the 2012
was particularly evident in South Carolina. Through the first
quarter of 2011 the state received fewer visits by presidential
prospects than Iowa and New Hampshire and there were fewer sign ups of
campaign operatives. Asked about the slow start,
Phil Noble stated, "SC has a long history of brutal Republican
primaries. I suspect that one reason that they have been slow to
engage down here is the same reason most kids don't stick their hand
into a barking pit bull's mouth—once you engage, its going to be
painful, noisy, bloody and an altogether nasty experience."
The machinations of Florida Republicans seeking to go early may have
affected activity. Iowa and New Hampshire then monopolized most of the
candidates' attention, but following the January 10 New Hampshire
primary, the full force of the campaign quickly enveloped the Palmetto
Looking at the field of
Republican candidates, two of the strongest potential candidates
opted against running. Gov.
Haley Barbour had the foundations of a solid
organization in place before he announced he would not be a candidate
on April 25, 2011. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, also a Southerner,
was expected to do well, but he ruled out a run on May 14.
Although nine candidates appeared on the ballot, by January 21 there were only four active campaigns. Herman Cain dropped out of the race in early December (he remained on the ballot and did appear at a rally with exploratory candidate comedian Stephen Colbert the day before the primary +). Rep. Michele Bachmann made a strong organizational push in South Carolina but pulled out after her poor showing in the Iowa caucuses. Former Gov. Jon Huntsman had a campaign in South Carolina, but it made little headway, and he withdrew on January 16. Gov. Rick Perry appeared to have an early edge here. On September 21 his campaign announced endorsements of a total of 21 state legislators. However, the weaknesses that afflcted his candidacy nationally took their toll in South Carolina as well and he withdrew on January 19 and endorsed Gingrich. That left former Gov. Mitt Romney, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Sen. Rick Santorum and Rep. Ron Paul competing in the closing days of the campaign.