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|Elections in South Carolina|
The South Carolina primary has become one of several key early-state presidential primaries in the process of the Democratic and Republican Parties choosing their respective general election nominees for President of the United States.
Historically, this primary election has been much more important in the Republican Party's nomination process, considered a firewall that could permanently eliminate any/all serious rivals to the winner. It is meant to force the various factions of the party to decide quickly on and unite behind a single candidate and avoid wasting precious time and resources on a drawn-out battle between their own candidates, that would divert the party's focus from working to defeat the Democrats' likely nominee.
Since its 1980 inception, the winner of the Republican South Carolina primary has always become the eventual Republican National Convention nominee for that fall's general election, with one exception, the 2012 primary, in which eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney finished second, behind winner Newt Gingrich (who would go on to suspend his campaign before that summer's convention began).
South Carolina has cemented its place as the "First in the South" primary for both parties. For the Democrats, the 2008 primary took on added significance because it was the first nominating contest in that cycle in which a large percentage (55 percent, according to an exit poll) of primary voters were African Americans.
The 2012 South Carolina primary was held on January 21 for Republicans, and on January 28 for Democrats. The 2016 primary was held on February 20 for Republicans, and on February 27 for Democrats.
- 1980: Ronald Reagan won with 55%, defeating runner-up John Connally.
- 1984: Uncontested (Reagan was the incumbent president and was re-nominated).
- 1988: George H. W. Bush won with 49%, defeating runner-up Bob Dole.
- 1992: George H. W. Bush won with 67%, defeating runner-up Pat Buchanan.
- 1996: Bob Dole won with 45%, defeating runner-up Pat Buchanan.
- 2000: George W. Bush won with 53%, defeating runner-up John McCain.
- 2004: Uncontested (Bush was the incumbent president and was re-nominated).
- 2008: John McCain won with 33%, defeating runner-up Mike Huckabee.
- 2012: Newt Gingrich won with 40%, defeating runner-up Mitt Romney.
- 2016: Donald Trump won with 33%, defeating runner-up Marco Rubio.
- 1988: In 1988, South Carolina Democrats held a caucus rather than a primary. Jesse Jackson won with approximately 55% of the vote, defeating Al Gore.
- 1992: Bill Clinton won with approximately 69% of the vote, defeating Paul Tsongas.
- 1996: Uncontested (Clinton was the incumbent president and was renominated).
- 2000: Al Gore won with 92% of the vote, defeating Bill Bradley.
- 2004: John Edwards won with 45% of the vote, defeating John Kerry.
- 2008: Barack Obama won with approximately 55% of the vote, defeating Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.
- 2012: Uncontested (Obama was the incumbent president and was renominated).
- 2016: Hillary Clinton won with 73% of the vote, defeating runner-up Bernie Sanders.
- South Carolina Democratic primary, 2008
- South Carolina Republican primary, 2008
- South Carolina Republican primary, 2012
- United States presidential election in South Carolina, 2016
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