South Carolina’s Track Record in Picking Presidents: A Closer Look

PHOTO: George W. Bush stands on stage before speaking , Feb. 15, 2016 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Barack Obama speaks in Washington, February 13, 2016. John McCain speaks at the 2016 Munich Security Conference, Feb. 14, 2016 in Munich, Germany. Getty Images
George W. Bush stands on stage before speaking in support of his brother, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush,at a campaign rally, Feb. 15, 2016 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Barack Obama speaks in Rancho Mirage, California on the death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, February 13, 2016. John McCain speaks at the 2016 Munich Security Conference, Feb. 14, 2016 in Munich, Germany.

The Republicans hold their primary in South Carolina on Saturday while the Democrats hold theirs a week later on Feb. 27.

Since 1980, the Palmetto State has held its “First in the South” Republican primary. While on the other side of the aisle, Democrats held a caucus before the 1992 presidential primary in South Carolina, and has flip-flopped between holding a primary or a caucus.

While some see the New Hampshire primary and the Iowa caucus as a way to whittle the field, South Carolina likes to brag that it picks presidents.

While the southern state’s record of picking presidents is a little spotty, South Carolina has a better record of being a GOP kingmaker.

The South Carolina Republican primary has a six-out-of-seven record (not including uncontested primaries) of picking the party’s nominee. And three times, the South Carolina GOP primary winners went on to win the White House -- again not counting uncontested years.

Newt Gingrich was the candidate who broke the South Carolina streak. The former House Speaker nabbed the primary with 40 percent of the vote. The eventual 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, was the runner-up.

After placing third in the New Hampshire primary, Bill Clinton began sweeping up southern states, starting with Georgia then South Carolina. In 2008, President Obama scooped up 55 percent of the vote, beating out South Carolina Sen. John Edwards and Hillary Clinton.

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