South Carolina’s Divisive Message
Published: January 21, 2012
Since it was first held 32 years ago, the South Carolina Republican primary has been won by the party’s most electable candidate, the one backed by the Republican establishment and invariably the winner of the nomination. On Saturday, the state veered in an extreme direction, and the outcome spoke poorly for a party that allowed itself to be manipulated by the lowest form of campaigning.
South Carolina has moved sharply rightward since Mr. Obama arrived on the national scene. In 2000, 24 percent of state voters said they were “very conservative,” but that number jumped to 34 percent in 2008. Now it is up to 37 percent, according to exit polls. Two-thirds of Saturday’s voters said they supported the Tea Party, reflecting the election in 2010 of four South Carolina freshmen who are among the most extreme members of the House.
In one of the most telling results of the exit polls, most voters said that cutting the federal budget was more important than encouraging job growth. At a time when more than 13 million people remain unemployed, these voters do not want the government to do a thing about it, possibly because it might improve Mr. Obama’s re-election chances.
It was Mr. Gingrich who pulled the race into the gutter, where he found considerable support.
As one voter told a reporter, “I think we’ve reached a point where we need someone who’s mean.”
They got that candidate on Saturday.
Read the full story here: The New York Times
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