South Carolina primary
|Elections in South Carolina|
The South Carolina presidential primary has become one of several key, "early-state" primary elections 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 would permanently eliminate any/all serious rivals to the front-runner. It was designed to stop the momentum of any insurgent candidate(s) who threatened to catch or overtake the Republican establishment's preferred choice to win the nomination -- especially those who had strong showings in the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries. This is meant to force the various factions of the party to quickly decide on and unite behind a single candidate, to 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 South Carolina primary always becomes 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 in second-place, 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 Saturday, January 21.
 Republican results
- 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.
 Democratic results
- 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 Rodham Clinton and John Edwards.
- 2012: Uncontested (Obama is the incumbent president and was renominated).
 See also
- South Carolina Democratic primary, 2008
- South Carolina Republican primary, 2008
- South Carolina Republican primary, 2012
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