Trump Wins South Carolina, Falls Short of Expectations — By: Church Militant

DETROIT ( – Despite winning a landslide victory in his opponent’s home state on Saturday, former President Donald Trump is being called out by pundits as underperforming in South Carolina.

Former President Donald Trump and Nikki Haley

As predicted by polling, Trump easily won the South Carolina Republican primary, defeating former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley by a margin of 59.8% to 39.5%. However, several polls had projected Trump to finish in the low 60s, leading to discussions about his failure to meet expectations.

Two firms were particularly accurate in their predictions: The Trafalgar Group posted a split of 58.9% to 37.5%, while Insider Advantage pegged the race at 60% to 38%.

Despite carrying 43 of the state’s 46 counties, Trump failed to win in Charleston and Beaufort counties, located in the 1st Congressional District (represented by Republican Rep. Nancy Mace).

Haley’s margins in these two counties allowed her to carry the 1st District, winning three of the state’s 50 pledged delegates. The only other county Haley carried was Richland, home to the state capital of Columbia, which is also South Carolina’s most Democratic area.

Biden’s Weakness

While analysts note Trump’s continued weakness in suburban areas, they also note President Biden’s underperformance. Although Biden initially recorded strong primary percentages — receiving 96% of voter support in South Carolina and 89% in Nevada — it is important to compare these numbers to the turnout statistics for a more accurate assessment of the early-voting states.

It appears that each must address areas of weakness.

In the Feb. 3 South Carolina Democratic primary, Joe Biden received 96% of the vote from a turnout of 131,307 voters. In contrast, 750,586 voters cast ballots for either Trump or Haley in the recent Republican primary. Comparing this to the 2016 primaries, the last time both parties contested presidential primaries, 370,904 people participated in the Democratic primary — nearly three times as many as in 2024. On the Republican side, 740,881 individuals voted in the primary, almost 10,000 fewer than in 2024.

President Joe Biden

In 2020, during the Democratic primary, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, businessman Tom Steyer, Pete Buttigieg from Indiana, and Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, along with former U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii, competed for the nomination. This drew a much larger voter turnout of 539,263 — more than four times the number in this year’s primary.

In Nevada, more people voted in the Republican primary and caucus than in the Democratic primary, but the participation numbers are difficult to study. Republican voters were allowed to cast ballots in both the GOP primary and the delegate-apportioning caucuses, making determining the exact turnout number challenging.

While it was expected that President Biden would easily defeat his two minor Democratic opponents, Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips and author Marianne Williamson, in South Carolina and Nevada the low voter turnout could indicate an enthusiasm problem for the president moving forward.

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The Ellis Insight: Haley Loses to ‘None’

In the 2024 election cycle, South Carolina is the first state where both parties held comparable primaries. Republicans started with the Iowa Caucus, which Democrats chose to bypass. The parties then moved to New Hampshire, where President Biden did not enter the primary because the state’s leadership did not agree to the proposed Democratic National Committee primary schedule. After the Granite State vote, the parties moved to Nevada.

The timing of the poll’s release raises questions.

Therefore, as the two major party candidates move toward renomination, it appears that each must address areas of weakness heading toward the general election. Trump will have to improve support in the country’s suburban areas while Biden must find a way to generate more enthusiasm within his party’s base.

Senate Update

A recent poll from the University of California at Berkeley’s Public Policy Institute of California suggests that the race for the California U.S. Senate seat is tightening.

Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter

While Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff continues to lead, the poll indicates that fellow Democrat Rep. Katie Porter has narrowly overtaken Republican Steve Garvey for the second-place position in the state’s “jungle” primary system. Previously, Garvey appeared to be gaining ground for a potential second-place finish, but this latest poll shows Porter ahead by a percentage point.

However, the timing of the poll’s release raises questions about its accuracy. The poll, conducted from Feb. 6-13, was released after an Emerson College survey that showed Schiff leading with 28%, followed by Garvey at 22%, Porter at 16%, and U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee at 9%. The Emerson poll suggests that Garvey’s momentum might be real, despite the Cal-Berkeley poll’s findings.

In other news, Republican North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer has announced he will seek a second term in the 2024 election. After hinting at retirement for almost a year, his decision to run again means he is likely to face little opposition in both the primary and general elections, making him a strong favorite to retain his seat.

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