Trump takes South Carolina, according to all major news outlets. Cruz and Rubio vie for a distant second place.
Donald Trump will win the South Carolina Republican primary, CNN projects, a tremendous show of strength in the heart of the Deep South that validates his status as the GOP’s national front-runner.
Trump’s win, following his victory in New Hampshire earlier this month and a second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, gives the former reality television star a critical burst of momentum heading into Nevada’s Republican caucuses Tuesday and the slate of 13 states voting on Super Tuesday, March 1.
His performance could unnerve the Republican establishment, since South Carolina has been a reliable barometer of conservative opinion after siding with the eventual nominee in every GOP presidential race since 1980, apart from in 2012. And, following his risky attack on George. W. Bush’s handling of terrorism and the Iraq war, Trump’s win provides more evidence that he can take positions that would undermine virtually any other politician.
NPR noted that, despite the big potential second place finish for Cruz or Rubio, it was Jeb who has the most to lose:
The former Florida governor has leaned heavily on his family connections to carry him in the state, bringing in his brother, former President George W. Bush, and his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, this week to campaign for him. But if he has a disappointing finish despite his heavy spending, it’s even harder to see a path forward for his struggling campaign.