**Due to the long length of my prior post on the SC primary and Nevada caucuses, I am starting this one, which will primarly focus on the SC primary, but will include any interesting info I come across on the NV Dem caucus, which as I reported in my prior post has been called for Hillary by all the major networks. A reminder: I will be on BlogTalk Radio tonight with Rick Moran at 8 PM ET to discuss today’s primary/caucus results.**
Jonathan Martin at The Politico writes that Fred is sounding like he will drop out if he doesn’t have a “strong finish” in SC today:
Fred Thompson made it clear at a midday campaign stop that he won’t continue in the race without a strong showing out of South Carolina tonight.
“We’ll see how we have to do, we’ll see what the results are,” Thompson said, when questioned at a small press availability if he needed to win to go forward. “I’ve always said I have to do very well here; there’s no question about that. I stand by that.”
“We won’t have too much longer to wait,” he added.
Asked what his plans were for Monday, Thompson repeated the question: “Plans for Monday currently?”
“It depends on the outcome,” Thompson admitted. “We’ll see.”
If exit polls are any indication, he’s out.
Update 1 – 4:42 PM – (General): The Sunday Times reports that Oprah is facing some backlash from female fans for supporting the male candidate over the female candidate. (eye roll)
McCain needs a big turnout in the coastal areas of the state in order to win. McCain made Myrtle Beach a part of his final push yesterday, and as we found out, he has a lot of support down there.
Remember to keep this SC results link bookmarked, so you can refer back to it this evening after the polls close at 7.
Update 5 – 5:38 PM – (SC): The AP has some exit poll numbers that might prove troublesome for McCain:
Preliminary figures from exit polls of voters showed that conservatives and white evangelical and born-again Christians were turning out heavily, and that Republican voters said a candidate who shares their values was most important. That all boded well for Huckabee, the one-time Southern Baptist preacher with solid social conservative credentials, and poorly for McCain, who has a rocky relationship with hard-right voters despite a right-leaning Senate voting record on issues they care most about.
Also troublesome for McCain: GOP voters ranked illegal immigration as their second-most important issue behind the economy. And, just over half said illegal immigrants should be deported. McCain has drawn fire from parts of his party for backing an eventual path to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the country illegally.
However, exit polls also showed that veterans were about a quarter of the overall vote, while people over the age of 50 made up over half of those who voted. Native South Carolinians were making up just less than half of voters.
Allahpundit reports on Fred’s chances of staying in the race, notes that the Fred campaign is saying they “may” still stay in the race even if he finishes 3rd, and also points to exit polls reported by Fox News which show Fred may finish in 4th.
Update 6 – 6:55 PM – (NV/SC): The Clinton and Obama camps are both leveling voter suppression accusations at each other.
Polls close in SC in 5 minutes.
Update 8 – 7:12 PM – (SC): Hotline On Call is reporting that Duncan Hunter is dropping out of the race. Too bad he could never get his candidacy off the ground. I really liked him.
With 1% reporting, McCain leads over Huckabee by around 800 votes. In the battle for 3rd, Romney is ahead of Thompson by about 400 votes.
Update 10 – 7:53 PM – (General): Don’t forget – I’ll be on Rick Moran’s BlogTalk Radio show in about 7 minutes.
Update 11 – 7:58 PM – (SC): With 6% reporting, McCain leads by little less than 2,000 votes. Thompson’s about 300 behind Romney for 3rd.
Update 12 – 8:27 PM – (SC): With 29% reporting, McCain is ahead by 6% – 7,000 votes. Thompson has actually edged Romney for 3rd by about 200 votes.
Update 13 – 9:06 PM – (SC/NV): 72% reporting – McCain’s up by 16,000 votes. Media still hasn’t called it.
Re: the Nevada delegate count – was Obama wrong in asserting that he’d get one delegate more than HRC?
Thompson has no public schedule Sunday, and is planning to consult with campaign manager Bill Lacy and other top advisers about the next move.
“We are not blind to the obvious,” said one senior campaign adviser.”
Update 15 – 9:15 PM – (SC): Drudge has up at his site that McCain has won the SC primary, but there’s no link to any news outlets calling it for “the maverick.” The mediots aren’t calling it yet, even though McCain is ahead at 82% with 14,000 votes more than Huckabee. Thompson is still in 3rd by 3,000 votes over Romney.
The mediots are calling this a “tight race.” Huh? Being ahead by 14,000 votes with 18% of the vote left to count hardly equates to “tight.”
Update 16 – 9:24 PM – (SC): Just across the wires: The AP is calling it for McCain.
Update 18 – 10:28 PM – (SC): Check out Mark Steyn’s analysis of SC and beyond. I think he’s spot on.
With 93% reporting, McCain’s ahead by 14,000 votes. Looks like Fred will finish in 3rd, with 3,000 more votes than Romney.
I’m exhausted, and am headed for the pillow now. G’nite, all!