As we near the South Carolina primary, Americans and media alike try to decipher which primary elections are the most significant for the Republican candidates to win in order to secure the nomination. As a New Hampshire voter who witnessed all the buzz of the New Hampshire primary firsthand, it pains me to say that South Carolina is probably the most important state for any of these campaigns to win. While Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney captured both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary to open the race, if he does not win South Carolina, he will not win this primary election.
If Romney wins in South Carolina, he will clearly establish himself as the Republican nominee, but if he is to lose, the win will give the other candidates enough momentum to close the gap that Romney has established so far. This provides a great opportunity for the other candidates especially Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) to come up with a victory to gain enough momentum to carry them through the rest of the race.
Since 1980, no Republican has gone on to win the nomination without winning South Carolina. Meanwhile in New Hampshire, just four years ago Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire primary but did not go on to win his party’s nomination. Going back even further, since 1980 three Republicans and three Democrats have won in New Hampshire and not gone on to be their party’s nominee. While the difference for Democratic candidates may not be as significant, it seems pretty clear that for a Republican to win its party’s nomination, they must win South Carolina. While Romney has won both Iowa and New Hampshire to start off the race, he must win South Carolina in order to win the nomination. Ron Paul is hoping to end Romney’s winning streak after strong finishes in both Iowa and New Hampshire, while Rick Santorum hopes to build off his strong Iowa performance to state his case in South Carolina.
That is not to downplay Romney’s two impressive wins in Iowa and New Hampshire so far. The latest CBS poll shows if Romney were to run against Obama, he would have a 2 point advantage. This is no doubt in part due to the momentum he has picked up since winning New Hampshire and Iowa. But, Ron Paul only trails Obama by 1 point in that same poll, showing he too has enough popularity to sustain a campaign. South Carolina would be the perfect place for Paul to make his move in challenging Romney.
That being said, the latest Reuters/Ipsos Poll shows Romney with a 21 point lead in South Carolina with only five days until the vote. South Carolina voters are obviously paying attention to Romney’s results so far, meaning his New Hampshire primary win has helped him in South Carolina, but if Romney or any of the other candidates wants to win this election and with it the Republican nomination for president, they must win South Carolina and it appears that Romney will do just that. A win in South Carolina, essentially raps up this nomination giving Romney a lead that is probably too much to come back from. And history would say that Romney winning in South Carolina means him winning the Republican nomination.
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