WTF Happened in the Nevada Caucus and South Carolina Primary, Explained
The 2016 Republican primary election in South Carolina may be remembered as the moment the Bush Dynasty died.
Having squandered nearly $100 million in super PAC spending on his behalf, Jeb Bush took less than eight percent of the vote in South Carolina, finishing fourth. He’d previously taken fifth in Iowa, and fourth in New Hampshire.
The reality that he would not follow in his father and brother’s footsteps into the Oval Office hit Jeb hard as he dropped out Saturday night: “The people of Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken, and I really respect their decision,” Bush said, choking back tears. “So tonight I am suspending my campaign.”
He finishes with four GOP convention delegates.
Here’s everything else you need to know from Saturday’s Democratic caucus in Nevada, and Republican primary in South Carolina.
Mission accomplished, I guess. But wasn’t South Carolina supposed to fuel Jeb’s comeback?
Jeb’s exit comes on the heels of a stark reversal in strategy for his campaign; he had embraced his Bush family name in South Carolina and even campaigned with his brother, George W. Bush. The Jeb campaign had hoped to rekindle some of the love that South Carolina had shown the family in 2000, when the state propelled Dubya past John McCain.
But the decision to campaign on the family legacy also opened the door for the GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump, to wound Jeb by blasting the 43rd president — accusing George W. of lying about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and of negligence in failing to stop the 9/11 attacks.
GOP voters didn’t punish Trump for sounding like Michael Moore?
And they didn’t seem to object to anything else he said in the last week, either. Trump had used the final days of the South Carolina campaign to variously and incongruously: praise Planned Parenthood, defend the individual mandate of Obamacare, pick a fight with the pope, promise to renew waterboarding of terror suspects because “torture works,” and repeat, approvingly, an apocryphal tale of a general who slaughtered dozens of Muslim prisoners in the Philippines with bullets dipped in pig’s blood.
Instead, South Carolina voters rewarded Trump with nearly a third of the popular vote — and all 50 of the state’s GOP convention delegates. Trump won big despite not being the first choice of voters seeking the most electable candidate, or the candidate who shares their values (Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz won those cohorts, respectively). Trump was the big winner among voters looking for a candidate who “can bring needed change” and those just looking for a politician who “tells it like it is.”
So is Trump now cruising to the nomination?
In a normal year, Trump would be a lock. Every Republican who has won both the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries has gone on to secure the party’s nomination. Trump’s ability to attract significant segments of both moderate and evangelical GOP voters puts him in a formidable position.