South Carolina Primary Rumor Mill


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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89 Responses

  1. Avatar Trizzlor says:

    Even these early rumors tell us a lot about the state of the GOP, none of it good.Report

  2. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    It seems strange that a year ago the default assuption was that 2016 this would be a Clinton vs. Bush election and the primaries would be uneventful.Report

    • Wasn’t my prediction! I thought Jeb always had a rough road, though I didn’t quite see it going like this. On the Dem side I did think that Hillary would have an easier time of it.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman says:

        She actually pretty much had that easy time, all things considered.Report

        • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Michael Drew says:

          Well, we’ll see. I think it’ll be clear whether it’s a stroll or a slog to the nomination after Super Tuesday.Report

        • Sadly, I think you’re right. Bernie needed to win Nevada. South Carolina’s out of sight for him, and one win in the first four primary states isn’t enough for an outside candidate.

          Moreover, most of the Super Tuesday states are in the southeast, where he’ll face the same issues as in South Carolina. Clinton is running way ahead in Texas (by far the largest state up for grabs on Super Tuesday), and even in Michigan, which seems like it ought to be better territory for Bernie. He’ll likely win in Massachusetts, but that’s not nearly enough to contend for the nomination.

          All the large, liberal states where he’d have the strongest chance – e.g., California – are late in the primary process.

          There’s also the fact that Clinton has far more money – Bernie needs momemtum and strong publicity in order to be competitive in as many states as she is, because his campaign coffers aren’t going to be able to fund as many ads in as many areas as she can. Again, the first four primaries were crucial because he could take them one at a time (or relatively so), which is more financially manageable with a smaller budget.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to KatherineMW says:

            Well I don’t think he has much to be sad about. I always got the impression by Bernie’s manner of running and his very careful wording towards Clinton that his core intent was to pull her left and on that goal he’s succeeded enormously. He has also been quite careful to not do serious damage to her which I think he has also succeeded at pretty solidly. Frankly I couldn’t be happier with Bernie’s performance, I think Democrats in general should be pretty grateful to him.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Will Truman says:

        Credit. I recall @will-truman making this prediction about Jeb! a year ago.Report

  3. Avatar Roland Dodds says:

    “It appears as though some Republicans have gone to the polls to vote for Donald Trump. Others, it appears, are voting for or have voted for Ted Cruz. We are also ready to project that Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and Ben Carson will be getting votes as well. There are rumors that some will be voting for Jeb Bush, though we find these rumors far-fetched.”

    @will-truman Is this post trying to get you a job at CNN? I could see someone actually saying these exact words on air to fill the next 10 hours of programing.Report

  4. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Twitter tells me MSNBC just called it.Report

  5. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    If Rubio gets second as he is trending toward, I won’t snark about it this time.(This time: he does need to start winning sometime.) That’s genuinely something to play up.Report

    • I stand by 3rd in Iowa as being a big deal. I was wrong about NH as I thought he was all but dead after that.

      Second here would be big. A solid third would be a hold pending what happens next.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman says:

        Remind me why? (Re: Iowa. Not that it matters – that was the spin, and it worked. That’s all that matters. Well, I guess delegates matter.)Report

        • Because it quashed the “two person race” narrative Cruz was working to build. He’d spent little time in Iowa (comparatively) and overperformed. The spinning was successful, but not wholly necessary.Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman says:

            Ah. Yeah, I think that narrative was over-hyped. Obvious beforehand it was way premature. Rubio was always going to be in the contest; it was fairly clear that the entire establishment wanted him there.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew says:

              Yes, Rubio needs to win something. Those somethings are the winner take all states. In these early states Rubio doesn’t need to win much at all. He’s getting his delegates, with his establishment roots he doesn’t need “momentum” or money to sustain his campaign. He just needs to rack up delegates and winnow out the weaker candidates. With Jeb! suspending his campaign it looks like Rubio’s going to get stronger and stronger. The big question in my mind is how long Cruz holds out. Cruz can’t win, but he can keep Rubio from turning this into a Rubio vs Trump race (where Rubio would win handily).

              As I have mournfully predicted for a while I think Rubio has this.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to North says:

                WHAT establishment roots? People seem to confuse “the establishment doesn’t mind this candidate” with he IS the establishment candidate.

                FWIW, the least establishment candidate from the GOP in my lifetime was Bob Dole, believe it or not (but only because he lost the establishment fight well before he got the nomination).Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

      …You have to actually bother to play it up, though:

      Re: Trump's win, Rubio CD @AlexConant declined to comment further than: "We are having a very very good night. No need to spin the obvious."— Alexandra Jaffe (@ajjaffe) February 21, 2016

      Second place doesn’t spin itself.Report

    • Trump’s currently ahead in almost all the counties. If he wins all of South Carolina’s delegates (he has 29 locked in for winning the state; another 3 for each of the 7 congressional districts won), does it really matter who comes in second or third?

      If Kasich and Bush drop out before Super Tuesday, then Rubio will be in a good position – regardless of whether he comes in second by a small margin or third by a small margin. If they don’t drop out, he’ll have more trouble.

      Based on the current SC results, I think the GOP establishment will be pushing Bush to drop out. Kasich is less likely – why would he drop out due to poor performance in a state where nobody expected him to perform particularly well? If he doesn’t, there’s still the question of whether he’ll continue to get substantial votes on Super Tuesday (Massachusetts seems like healthy territory for him, I’m not sure about elsewhere).Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to KatherineMW says:

        Not inasmuch as SC goes, but it shows he’s building support, and here did it in a place Cruz was supposed to have an advantage over him. So he may be pulling people that would usually be inclined to Cruz simply bc elites are signaling they want to beat Trump with Rubio not Cruz, and they do want to beat Trump (that’s one theory).Report

        • This is right. It’s about viability. The same thing that means Rubio needs to be able to claim states on Super Tuesday. Picking up delegates, even a lot if them, won’t be enough. Cruz could pick up fewer delegates and still come out the “winner” between the two of them if he wins states and Rubio doesn’t.Report

          • Texas is on Super Tuesday (and has by far the most delegates of the Super Tuesday states), which is an advantage for Cruz. Rubio is weak there. Rubio is also weak in Georgia, the second-largest Super Tuesday state.

            Rubio’s polling well in Virginia, and Massachusetts and Minnesota are potential Rubio territory.Report

            • I was asked the other day to name states where I thought Rubio could win. The answers I came up with were: Virginia, Colorado, Minnesota, Arkansas, and Tennessee. I doubt he will win all of them, but he’ll need to win at least a couple and (most likely) do better than Cruz generally.Report

        • Based on exit polls, it looks like Cruz and Rubio are pulling very different demographics. Cruz is strong with people who say they are “very conservative”, particularly with those who self-identify as evangelical Christians, and with people with lower levels of education. Rubio, on the other hand, is strong with people who identify as “somewhat conservate” or “moderate”, who are highly-educated (esp. university) and with people who are high-income-earners (above $100,000).

          That doesn’t seem to signal a ton of overlap between the two candidates. Cruz voters will likely go to Rubio if Cruz drops out (SC dirty politics has pretty much made the Trump and Cruz camps mortal enemies), but not on the basis of a narrow second-place finish.

          Rubio’s advantage is that Trump and Cruz are competing for similar groups (lower- or middle- income, lower-education, conservative), while Rubio has less competition for the moderate/educated/rich group. But I’m not sure that will be enough.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to KatherineMW says:

        Trump isn’t going to win, so this result is not particularily good for him. He really needed a Not Rubio to come in second.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

      The flip side of my concession on 2nd place is that if he finishes in third, then he finishes in third.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        …I know it will be a *very* strong third if it’s a third. But I’m quite committed to maintaining a vivd distinction between finishing second and finishing third in multi-candidate primaries.

        I’m openly hostile to the concept of the “strong third-place finish.”Report

        • Finishing a strong third is not almost as good as finishing second, but finishing a strong third is a lot better than finishing a weak third. because if he was a weak third, that would mean that he’s close to people he can’t afford to be close to. Second place would help, strong third is a hold, weak third cripples him.

          To look at New Hampshire, I thought 5th would kill him. But it didn’t kill him precisely because Cruz and Bush finished in a “Weak third” and “weak fourth”… had the distribution been different, Jeb would have gotten a bounce. Instead it was kind of like “Huh. They’re all within a point of one another.”Report

          • It really shows the power of the establishment and its narratives when “third, fifth, and third” can be spun as indicating that a candidate is a strong contendor. I mean, any outsider candidate finished in those positions, and everyone would be dismissing him as no-hope.Report

            • This is true, but it’s not entirely spin. Some candidates genuinely have a greater buffer than other candidates because they have the resources to keep competing and the support to weather some rocky weather.

              (Another way of looking at it is this: When Bridgegate hit, Chris Christie was demolished by it. Other candidates would have been able to weather that storm. However, Christie simply had little goodwill to spare. He was unprotected. Too many people were happy to see him fall and too few people were committed to him. And that’s despite most of his favor – to the extent that he had it – being of the establishment variety. It was just really shallow.)Report

            • Avatar North in reply to KatherineMW says:

              It’s not just spin. Look, this is the primary race. The only state where winning #1 truely matters is a winner take all state. In all the rest winning #1 vs #2 or #3 is a difference of a handful of delegates.

              If your campaign is shoestring and you need to get money and press to stay alive then winning #1 or exceeding expectations is what you need to do to stay in the race and it’s vital. If, like Rubio, you have establishment support you simply have to place and spin.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to North says:

                For practical purposes, this was a WTA state.

                That being said, it’s 50 delegates out of 1200 needed.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman says:

                Yes, you are right so in that Trumps #1 place has somewhat more significance. But the number to remember is 35%. Trump hasn’t “Won” any of his victories with more than 35%. That means that he is “winning” on the strength of a divided field. On that metric Trump needs his opponents to trade 2nd place finishes to keep them all in the field. Trump may have “won” SC but he lost Jeb! Which is disastrous for him because one can expect most of that support to flow to Rubio, where Trump desperately needs it to not go.Report

  6. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Well, the rumor that Trump would be spanked for saying W lied us into a disastrous war in Iraq turned out to not be true.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Stillwater says:

      Not a rumor I partook in. I did think it might soften his support, and we’ll know shortly if it did.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Stillwater says:

      It didn’t, because that’s not the crowd of people he’s drawing from.

      Trump is drawing from folks who like to think of themselves as tough-talking, no-nonsense sorts who don’t give a flip about you PC wussies. They know what they know, and f*ck you pal. Being offensive, bombastic, arrogant, and having no freaking clue about a subject? Those are pluses.

      I suspect they’re also mostly the ones who have the weird man-crush on Putin that keeps popping up on the right. They want manly men who fight and attack and never say sorry and never give in and don’t listen to the eggheads and just do what they gotta do.

      Now they might abandon Trump if he starts losing, but as long as the GOP electorate is split into three or four parts like it is now — 30 to 35% is still winning.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Morat20 says:

        I’ve been running the numbers using the RCP calculator, and mathematically it’s likely to be pretty difficult for Trump to win with 30-35% of the vote. The sweet spot appears to be somewhere north of 35% and south of 40%. Less than that, even accounting for the WTA states, it seems to be a difficult mathematical road. If Trump wins the nomination, it’ll likely be because he broke that barrier and things broke perfectly his way. If he wins the nomination, it’s more likely because he broke that barrier for some reason or another.

        (For a variety of reasons, including minimum thresholds. If Cruz and Rubio split their support about evenly, Trump may win a plurality but votes get divided up anyway because Cruz and Rubio both have 20% support. If there is an imbalance between Cruz and Rubio, then it would be less likely that Trump wins the plurality.)Report

    • Avatar Autolukos in reply to Will Truman says:

      And only three weeks later than he should have dropped!Report

    • My Twitter feed is very negative on Cruz now. The Rubio people are spinning, obviously, but even some comparatively neutrals are wondering.

      Who gets second may end up mattering less than the tiers. That cuts both ways, because the gap between 3 and 4 is huge… but so is the gap between 1 and 2. On the whole, not a good result from my perspective. Others in my lane might disagree, though.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Will Truman says:

        Are we looking at it becoming a three man race, then? Carson basically doesn’t matter now and I don’t see Kasich as viable anymore because money.

        Rubio can’t drop out until March 15; his own state is delegate rich. Cruz, though, must do well, as in carry states other than his own, on March 1. Otherwise, the negging on Cruz resulting from a near-tie with Rubio in Really Conservative South Carolina will seem valid. Am I right?

        Lastly, are we prepared to say that the Haley endorsement is as critical in ’16 as the Crist endorsement was in ’08? I’m leaning “yes.”Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Burt Likko says:

          This sounds about right. Anti-Trumpers are egging Carson to drop out, but I don’t think that’s what thru want. That’s probably where Trump’s next set of voters comes from.Report

        • Avatar Autolukos in reply to Burt Likko says:

          Assuming Kasich stays in but drops much of his post-New Hampshire bump, there is probably something like 12% up for grabs nationally. If Rubio is the primary beneficiary, that could well move him into second in the national polls. At the very least, it should make him competitive with Cruz. This is about the last opportunity to have a good loss, though; if Rubio can’t win multiple states on Super Tuesday, he will have a hard time spinning it as anything but a failure.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Autolukos says:

            If the general narrative becomes what I’m seeing on Twitter right now, Cruz votes may be up for grabs.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

              What are people on twitter saying about Cruzer?Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Stillwater says:

                That this is an unambiguously terrible result for him. South Carolina’s demographics were practically custom-built for him and he couldn’t even get a clear second place. He won just 14% of the non-Evangelical vote. He had to do better than he did here and that he didn’t do better has them questioning whether he can even win Texas. It’s just a terrible narrative for him.

                Reviews are mixed on whether this was a good night or a bad night for Trump and Rubio (my own take is “mostly good” and “slightly bad”. Consensus that it was a bad night for everyone else.

                That’s Twitter, of course. So it’s not clear that it will hold. But a lot of these observations are coming from media people.Report

              • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Will Truman says:

                But even if this means the Cruz campaign is doomed, so what? I’m not sure Cruz or his supporters care.

                I mean, Cruz rose to fame as the guy who would rather break our political system than compromise with the left, yeah?Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Alan Scott says:

                According to exit polls, 3/4 of Cruz voters were open to voting for other candidates. According to PPP’s poll, Rubio was the second choice of a plurality (32%) of Cruz voters compared to 11% for Trump. So there’s some potential to grab some votes there.

                Cruz himself may not care, and may stick it out as long as he can. I need to find out how much money he has in the bank.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                Thanks for the linky. Makes sense. Not a lot of positives to take away when Trump beats you at your key demographic.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Stillwater says:

                Welp, Ben Shapiro – who spent most of this week arguing that Rubio needs to stand down – has flipped, arguing that Rubio needs to offer Cruz something for Cruz to step down.Report

    • That’s a huge boon for Rubio. Bush could probably figure out on his own that he didn’t have a chance at this point, but I’m guessing some higher-ups in the GOP gave him a push as well.Report

      • Yeah. For multiple reasons:

        (1) He’ll pick up Jeb votes.
        (2) The R2R carpet-bombing will cease.
        (3) Even if Kasich stays, he’s sitting on very little money and tonight won’t help with fundraisers.

        Kasich is still a problem for him, though. Not as big as the problem of Trump winning by double-digits, which is dreadful for everyone but Trump.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to KatherineMW says:

        It’s almost everything really. It all hinges on Cruz now and for Cruz it’s a question of “Do I damage Rubio so he limps to his victory or do I drop out so he romps to it.”Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to North says:

          No reason to believe Cruz won’t fight to the bitter end. He’s got more money than Rubio (for now) and little reason to play nice.

          His mean streak may be his downfall, though. They can’t distinguish between good attacks and bad ones.

          Today they decided to promote a story that Rubio mocked someone for reading The Bible. Whatever your opinion of Rubio, how likely does that sound to you?

          Meanwhile, it looks like the Rubio campaign outright lied about Cruz lying about Rubio dropping out. But people lent it credibility because that sounds like the sort of thing Cruz would do (and did!).Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman says:

            I’m inclined to believe you. Now at some point where it’s Cruz, Rubio and Trump does the establishment switch to hardball and find behind the scenes threats they can make to Cruz to make spite unappealing? Does Cruz have such pressure points? I don’t know.Report

    • I checked in on the Bushies on my Twitter feed. I was not let down!


    • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman says:

      Huge for Rubio. The clock is ticking in earnest now. And believe me I am NOT happy to be saying that.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to North says:

        @north I know you’ve been concerned about Rubio since the beginning; on paper this was very reasonable – as long as we could imagine that Rubio was a steely eyed politico wrapped in a youthful ethnically pleasing wrapper. He’s not. Not a steely eyed politico, that is.

        He’ll rally the usual suspects well enough, but I no longer believe he will inspire anything more. So, as long as Hillary can pretend to be almost likable (a stretch, yes, I know), she back into the presidency. There’s even a chance that Rubio shits the dais like an over-bred puppy, in which case, it might even look like people wanted her to be president.Report

        • If, during the one-on-one debates, Hillary can pressure Rubio without coming off like the Wicked Witch of the West, he’ll fold like a cheap tent. Better yet, if Trump gets in as a 3rd-partier, he can do it.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            From your lips to God(ess?)’s ears Mike.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            I don’t think he’ll fold, or at least crumple any worse than Bernie has done, but he does have the disadvantage right now that Hillary’s empty promises are stronger than Marco’s (and are better woven into a seamless fabric than Bernie’s) This is why Marco really needs to come up a bit short in this year’s nomination so he can run against a Hillary in 2020 who will have a record he can pick apart.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Marchmaine says:

          @marchmaine I’m going to agree with you that Rubio’s debate choke eased my stress veins a bit; that said he remains one of the most dangerous occupants of the clown car. Jeb!? I’d have loved for that contest. Trump? I understand some people’s fascism worries but I think he’d be a fiasco in the general. Cruz? Just too hateful and too far right, too hard to tack to the center. Rubio can at least plausibly try and pull the normal GOP song and dance. I would have preferred a more assured win than the actual contest I’m presuming we’ll get now.

          Still, hope remains? Cruz could maul Rubio, Trump could stay in or go third party, possabilities exist. But it won’t just be a walk in the park for Hillary and I would have liked a walk in the park for the general.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to North says:

            You want a walk in the park for the Presidency??? GAH!
            I want something where the GOP can sink oodles into it, and then I want to take the fight to their turf on some of the harder battles (read senate).

            Presidency makes a fine moneypit, imnsho.

            (Meanwhile, the cash from the Walker and Bush campaigns makes a fine “thank you” for getting them out of the race — we call that easy money).Report

  7. Avatar Will Truman says:

    FWIW, I consider a “win” for Trump getting 30%, a better win is winning all of the delegates. A really good win is a double-digit win.

    He looks almost certain to get a win. A RGW looks as likely as not.

    OTOH, I’ve gone back and forth with Varad Mehta on this. He thinks the 3/4 gap is most important, so he’s more likely to be pleased with the results. I’m looking at 1/2 and thus far am not pleased.Report

  8. Avatar notme says:

    Looks like Bush is out.Report

  9. Avatar Will Truman says:

    Holy crap! I did a Linkage a little while back about how google searches may be indicative of primary results. Check this out:

    Did any poll get it that close? Every candidate within two percentage points.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

      Killer from the bush campaign: Too many searches in south carolina asking “Is JEB Bush related to GW Bush?”

      Note, this is from the state where GWBush got tons of votes because people were convinced they were voting for his father.Report

  10. If Donald Trump receives more votes than his rivals, that will confirm his “Get more votes than the other candidates” strategy, which has so far been successful. This was the strategy used by George W Bush in 2000

    Though in the general election Bush successfully used an altered strategy of “Get fewer votes and cheat”.Report