The Buzz

December 19, 2013

WHITE HOUSE 2016: Is South Carolina losing its early-primary luster?

The Buzz

A blog from The State's political team of Cassie Cope, Jamie Self and Andy Shain. Email tips to thebuzz@thestate.com.

NBC News posted a story Thursday suggesting that South Carolina might no longer be the Southern Belle of of the presidential primary ball.

For more than 30 years, South Carolina’s political calling card was its perfect record of voting for the eventual Republican presidential nominee in its first-in-the-South primary – so much so that the state’s Republican Party slogan was “We Pick Presidents.”

Until, in 2012, it didn’t.

Newt Gingrich’s victory, which broke the Palmetto State’s streak that began in 1980, has national Republicans saying South Carolina is no longer an indicator of the eventual winner – and perhaps its spotless tally up until last year was more of a happy coincidence than anything else.

“There’s a little of ‘wet streets cause rain’ thinking,” said GOP consultant Mike Murphy of the state’s marketing of its perfect record.

Murphy added that even if a candidate doesn’t win South Carolina’s primary, the perception that he exceeded expectations there – plus a win in one of the earlier two states, Iowa or New Hampshire – can give the candidate a boost for the rest of the primary stretch.

Later a longtime consultant who advised the Mitt Romney's 2008 and 2012 bids told NBC News: “Florida, I believe, figures more prominently in the nomination calculation,” the consultant said, “since it’s more of a microcosm and you need big-time resources and an organization to survive the fight there.”

Of course, South Carolina folks defended the Palmetto State's Southern primary pole position.

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