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Eye On Candidates
February 17, 2015

Graham 2016 Campaign Could Impact South Carolina Primary

By Sean Parnell

In the last several presidential election cycles, South Carolinas has held one of the earliest and thus most consequential nominating contests. With the potential entry of Lindsay Graham, U.S. Senator from South Carolina, that might not be the case in 2016 writes Byron York in the Washington Examiner:

“…Graham's candidacy would be unique, not because he would be running to make a point but because he is from a critical early-primary state. The South Carolina primary plays a crucial part in the Republican presidential nomination process. State officials zealously guard their position as the "First in the South" contest, and the primary is the first expression of what voters in the GOP's strongest region are thinking.

From 1980 through 2008, South Carolina primary voters chose the candidate who ended up winning the GOP nomination every single time, giving rise to a favorite local expression: "We pick presidents." But that streak came to an end in 2012 when the state's GOP voters chose Newt Gingrich. South Carolina politicos worried that diminished the state's influence; certainly the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney, didn't owe anything to South Carolina.

Now, a Graham run could further complicate the South Carolina picture. If the state's Republican voters support a favorite son who has no chance of winning nationwide, they could again see themselves reduced to an irrelevancy in the nominating process.

Something similar happened to Iowa in 1992, when Sen. Tom Harkin ran in and won the Democratic caucuses. Harkin lost almost everything else and dropped out of the race — meaning Iowa Democrats had very little influence in picking the party's nominee…”

The whole article is a fascinating look at the dynamics of the nominating process.