Texas Liberal

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History Of The South Carolina Primary

Republicans and Democrats are campaigning hard in South Carolina.

Republicans vote in that state on January 19. Democrats vote on January 26.

Above is the state seal of South Carolina. In the first circle the words mean–“Ready in soul and resource.” In the second circle the words mean–“While I breathe I hope.”

Here is a link to some basic facts about South Carolina. The population of South Carolina is roughly 4.4 million.

Beginning with 1980, South Carolina’s Presidential nominating primary has played an important role in selecting Republican nominees.

Every winner of the Republican primary in South Carolina since 1980 has gone on to win the nomination of his party. In a number of these instances, the South Carolina win played a direct role in the nomination victory.

In 2008, this primary is important for both parties.

The origin of South Carolina as a force in Republican Presidential politics can be traced back to the political consultant Lee Atwater. In 1980, Mr. Atwater helped get the South Carolina primary scheduled early in the campaign season to help Ronald Reagan. (Photo below.)

Mr. Atwater was an architect of the first George Bush’s “Willie Horton” strategy against Mike Dukakis.

Governor Reagan won the 1980 primary with 55% of the vote in a test against former Texas Governor John Connally. Mr. Connally ran a distant second at 30%.

In 1988, Mr. Atwater again used South Carolina to aid his candidate.

This time it was Mr. Reagan’s Vice President, George H.W. Bush.

South Carolina voted three days before much of the rest of the South did on so-called “Super Tuesday” March 8.  Bush scored a convincing win in South Carolina over his main Republican challenger, Robert Dole of Kansas. (Photo below) This helped set the tone for a Bush sweep of the South on the big primary day 72 hours later.

The timing of the South Carolina primary has been critical to it’s influence. Scheduled as the first primary in the South and conducted a few days before Super Tuesday, candidates have seen the state as a springboard to subsequent primary tests.

In these years, Democrats were holding a South Carolina caucus instead of a primary. Intended or not, this fact denied Jesse Jackson likely primary victories in 1984 and 1988. Reverend Jackson was South Carolina caucus winner in 1988.

Jesse Jackson grew up in Greenville, South Carolina.

South Carolina has a substantial black population and a majority of South Carolina’s Democrats are black.

In 1992, a strong showing by President Bush over Pat Buchanan (photo below) helped dash Mr. Buchanan’s hope of winning strong Southern support for his White House bid.

For 1996, while the slightly more moderate Mr. Dole might not seem a total fit for South Carolina Republicans, two former GOP governors of  South Carolina helped orchestrate a convincing Dole win over, again, Pat Buchanan. This win helped solidify Mr. Dole’s status as the frontrunner.

By 2000, Karl Rove (photo below), was running the Republican dirty tricks operation. Mr. Atwater died in 1991.

George W. Bush’s campaign questioned the sanity of rival John McCain. False rumors were spread about Senator McCain’s health. Leaflets were distributed calling McCain the “fag candidate.” This apparently because Senator McCain had met with the gay Log Cabin Republican group. (logo below)

Democrats have held a South Carolina primary in 1992 and 2004.

Bill Clinton was the easy winner in 1992.

John Edwards, who was born in South Carolina, was the 2004 winner. The win did little to help Senator Edwards take the nomination.

Al Sharpton (photo below) had hoped that black voters would rally to his candidacy.

They did not.

Below is a picture of the Sabel Palmetto tree. This is the state tree of South Carolina.

Texas Liberal is going to be your leading source for political history blogging in 2008. Please click here for a variety of political history posts including a history of the upcoming Florida primary.

January 14, 2008 - Posted by | Campaign 2008, Elections, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. those were the creepiest series of photos you have posted yet. i will have nightmares tonight and will wake to another nightmare bush day tomorrow :)what do we have left about 365 days until someone else is in office. can you add one of those countdown clocks to the blog?

    Comment by bill brady | January 15, 2008

  2. Those countdown clocks take computer skills I don’t have. I’m lucky enough to be posting words and pictures.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | January 15, 2008


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