Trump, Rubio, and Cruz in South Carolina: Where did they win?

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South Carolina county Republican 4

South Carolina county Republican 4Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz virtually tied for second in South Carolina. But where they won should give hope to Rubio and concern for Cruz.

This graphic is not offered for republication.

This graphic is not offered for republication.

Rubio edged out Trump in the two “establishment” parts of the state: Columbia and Charleston. Both regions have served as a firewall against conservative and insurgent candidates—both areas supported McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012. Rubio also did well in other parts of the state, including some of the wealthier areas around Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head. Just like in Iowa last month, Rubio can claim that he can beat Donald Trump in more diverse, more metropolitan areas.

The results were less encouraging for Cruz. South Carolina’s so-called Upstate has some of the most evangelical counties in the country. They are mostly Baptist and less religiously diverse than the other parts of the state.These are must-win areas for any candidate needing the support of evangelical voters. Mike Huckabee won these counties in 2008; many also gave high support to Rick Santorum four years ago.

Republican map of South Carolina: Three regions to watch during the primary

Cruz did not win any county, including the most conservative Upstate counties. Trump beat out Cruz and other social conservatives, just as Newt Gingrich won them four years ago.

Cruz also failed to come in second in all of the Upstate counties. Rubio edged out Cruz in two counties. Each county Rubio did better in are rural but located near more diverse communities: Lancaster County (near Rock Hill) and Oconee County (near Clemson).

The geography of the South Carolina primary fits the story coming out of the exit polls. Rubio did well among Republicans who want a candidate who can win. Trump voters want someone who can shake up Washington and “tell it like it is.” Cruz needs to secure most (if not all) of the evangelical and values-voters. He’s leading among these voters, but many of them are backing Rubio and Trump instead.

The next important date on the primary calendar is March 1, when Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and other states. We’ll have more on those states in future posts.

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  • Eric

    “Cruz needs to secure most (if not all) of the evangelical and values-voters. He’s leading among these voters, but many of them are backing Rubio and Trump instead.”

    Thoughts on why Cruz is losing votes to them despite leading them in polls?

  • David Lloyd-Jones

    I once asked an aggressive Internet evangelizer whether Solomon heard the voice of the turtle or the turtle-dove. He consulted his Bible, and informed me that it was the turtle.

    In my next post, I said this showed he had a very classical version of the King James, and that all later editions were written with the idea in mind that “turtle” had been an error.

    “Oh, no,” he assured me. The Original King James was obviously the True one, and any later revision must have been liberals at work. There in Alabama he could hear the turtles cooing in his back garden every night.

    Somehow I don’t think these people are overly concerned that Trump’s fact be in agreement with the rest of the real world. He is a man renowned for bravely speaking the Truth.


  • Jack

    There’s no delicate way of saying this:

    it is a moral and spiritual stain on evangelical pastors and congregants alike that so many evangelicals in South Carolina voted for Trump, especially given how his personality and character are a textbook example of what the Bible calls evil and under God’s judgment. Over and over again, the Bible says that God brings down the haughty and arrogant and gives grace to the humble.

    Much of American evangelicalism is rotting out from within. Honest evangelicals need to stand up and speak out, even against those they know and love.

  • Jack

    And no, this doesn’t mean that evangelicals should have necessarily voted for Trump’ opponents. That’s a function of other things, such as one’s views on the issue or which issues matter most.

    What it does mean is that if an evangelical believes what he or she professes, it is as a simple, logical matter, impossible to vote for Trump, any more than it is possible to be a vegan and have a steak sandwich. One excludes the other.

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