Thursday, March 24, 2011

Jim DeMint will not run for President; South Carolina wide open.

With the news that conservative Senator Jim DeMint will not run for the Republican nomination -- which was never a great possibility -- it means that South Carolina will be a competitive primary. (Had DeMint entered the race, no other candidate would have challenged him in his home state.)

Mike Huckabee won the state in 2008, and is still strong in the state as well as in other Southern states. However, he seems to be leaning toward staying out of the race. As does Sarah Palin, who polls in third place in the Palmetto State without DeMint.

A February Public Policy Polling survey of South Carolina GOP voters showed:
Huckabee 26%
Romney 20%
Palin 18%
Gingrich 13%
Those numbers are very close to PPP's national numbers, and if South Carolina is the same as the national electorate, then Newt would be the biggest beneficiary of Huckabee and Palin staying out of the race. Nationally, Newt and Romney were tied when the two former Governors were not included. It seems very likely that Newt would be in a very similar situation, if not even better, in South Carolina.

PPP asked what Newt's path to the nomination would be a couple of weeks back. It would seem that without Huckabee and Palin, he would perhaps be the frontrunner in Iowa and South Carolina as of this moment. And if he could win those two states -- with Romney likely winning New Hampshire by a big margin -- he would have the early momentum, and all that goes along with that, including more money and volunteers.

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