South Carolina’s role in setting the field for presidential elections

Looking ahead to SC presidential primaries

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA (WTOC) - Potential presidential candidates from across the country continue to visit the Palmetto State ahead of next year’s primaries.

“They’re here speaking to voters, eating our barbecue,” said Dr. Todd Shaw, the Chair for the Department of Political Science at the University of South Carolina. “It certainly might get on the nerves of voters for so much early attention on the presidential race, but that’s the name of the game now.”

South Carolina’s Democratic Presidential Primary is a year away, but candidates like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Corey Booker are doing everything they can to meet voters, volunteers and donors.

The South Carolina Democratic Party has scheduled the open primary for February 29, 2020. It’s the first state in the South to hold their primary, which is why it is known as “First in the South.”

“South Carolina has typically served as a springboard for candidates. It’s a bellwether for candidates to give them some indication what their chances are. South Carolina isn’t always a faithful predictor, but it is a good predictor of how a candidate will do," Dr. Shaw said.

There have been rumblings the South Carolina Republican Party will not a hold a primary in 2020. They have not released any information on that just yet.

Dr. Shaw said, “It’s quite common practice particularly when you have an incumbent. It’s just rational for a party to say, ‘we already have someone holding the office. Why would we want to challenge them?’”

The SC GOP did not hold a presidential primary in 1984 and 2004.

Dr. Shaw said regardless off what side of the aisle you are on, South Carolinians should make sure they are registered and will be taking part in the electoral process.

“I want to encourage folks to vote period. Given the last presidential election, according to the electoral college, it was decided by 70,000 votes. Which is a fraction of the city of Columbia’s population,” Dr. Shaw said.

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