Trump supporters celebrate in Columbia
It didn’t take long on election night for Republican Donald Trump to win in South Carolina.
Trump ran up a wide lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Palmetto State, leading by an almost a 3-to-2 margin.
“It was exciting there for a minute when they didn’t call it right away,” said College of Charleston political scientist Gibbs Knotts. “But South Carolina has been a reliably Republican state since 1976, when it was won by a neighboring governor (Georgia’s Jimmy Carter).”
South Carolina help launched Trump on the path to the GOP nomination in February, when he won the state’s Republican Primary. Trump knocked off the GOP’s establishment candidates, waging a campaign that focused heavily on immigration and trade issues.
Tuesday, more than six in 10 white S.C. voters cast ballots for Trump, while nine in 10 black voters chose Clinton, according to exit polling.
Trump and Clinton were nearly evenly split among voters with college degrees. Trump carried slightly more than half of voters who said they did not have a college degree.
“I’m surprised by that,” Citadel political scientist Scott Buchanan said of Trump’s margin among non-college-educated voters. “Trump has been doing better with that group in other states.”
Knotts agreed. “If it was just white non-college, it would be higher,” he said. “Something the South Carolina Republican Party has been able to do is remain healthy among white non-college- and college-educated voters.”
Trump largely held together the Republican vote even as many of the GOP’s S.C. leaders kept their distance from him, including U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who voted for third-party candidate Evan McMullin.
“I thought there might be a little peel off, but the ‘Never Trump’ people were never going to stay away or cast a protest vote,” Buchanan said. “If their choice was between Clinton and Trump, they would go to Trump.”
Almost 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump, compared to a fifth for Clinton.
1,329 of 2,238 precincts
Donald Trump, GOP — 575,150
Hillary Clinton, Dem — 367,354
Gary Johnson, Lib — 19,633
Evan McMullin, Inpend — 8,126
Jill Stein, Green — 5,615
Darrell Castle, Const —2,564
Peter Skewes, Amer — 1,687