Bush leads convincingly in South Carolina Republican primary
By biconews On 22 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Ariel Hansen

With a lead of 11 percentage points, Texas governor George W. Bush gained a commanding advantage over Arizona senator John McCain in the South Carolina Republican primary held last Saturday.

The turnout in South Carolina was exceptionally high, with over 600,000 votes cast, or 20 percent of the voting age population. This compares to only 276,000 votes cast in the 1996 primary. Part of the reason for the large turnout is the recent changeover that allows non-Republicans to vote for the Republican candidates. In addition, high interest in what was widely regarded as an unpredictable race between two popular candidates encouraged Republican, Democratic and independent voters to show up at polling places across the state.

Immediately following McCain’s victory in New Hampshire last month, Bush had been touting South Carolina as a “fire all” state, one that would secure his nomination as the Republican candidate for president. However, he backed off from this statement in recent weeks as the race drew closer and the McCain campaign attracted the attention of liberal and independent voters.

According to exit polls, more liberal and independent voters indeed voted for McCain than Bush, but Bush’s strong “compassionate conservatism” message drew out the religious conservative vote enough for an effective counterbalance. Exit polls also revealed that older people voted more often for McCain than they did Bush, and that personal qualities were rated more important than specific issues by all voters. Asked what the most important quality in a candidate was, McCain voters chose “standing up for beliefs” in large numbers, while Bush voters chose “conservative values,” “strong leadership,” and “can win in November” (CNN.com/


The next Republican primary elections will be in Michigan and Arizona on Feb. 22, which Bush and McCain are expected to split, the senator taking his home state. In fact, both candidate’s are concentrating on Michigan, where a victory for McCain would place him squarely back in the running with Bush. However, if Bush wins Michigan, most pundits say McCain ‘s chances of obtaining the Republican nomination are slim to none.

The Bush victory follows a controversy over negative advertising between the two candidates. In preparing for the South Carolina primary, McCain aired a television advertisement comparing Bush to Clinton in trustworthiness. After complaints from the Bush campaign and a strong negative reaction from conservatives, the McCain ad was pulled off the air and McCain promised that he would not engage in negative advertising for the rest of his campaign. However, it may have hurt him as the primary approached, despite a persistent negative advertising campaign by Bush, who has made no such promise.

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