Everything You Need to Know About the South Carolina Primary

Update: Since this article was published, Jim Gilmore has dropped out of the race. 

The primaries are headed South! As "The First in the South" to vote, South Carolina has a big job ahead of them. The Palmetto State's residents could make or break the election for their respective parties (no pressure or anything). In order to promote informed voting (and hopefully get as many of you to the polls as possible) we've got you covered on everything you need to know about the South Carolina primary, because to be honest, it's a super confusing process. 

First thing to note, South Carolina has an open primary, which means you don't have to be affiliated with a certain party to vote in their primary. However, this doesn't mean you can vote in both primaries, so choose wisely. 

Republican Primary

Republicans vote Saturday, Feb. 20.

1. There are 6 candidates left in the race

As of Friday morning, there are seven candidates still in the Republican race. These are:

  • Donald Trump
  • Marco Rubio
  • Jeb Bush
  • Ted Cruz
  • John Kasich
  • Ben Carson

Many of the candidates are reassessing their showing in the first two primaries and are taking a moment to decide whether or not to continue their campaign. Governor Chris Christie and Businesswoman Carly Fiorina have already announced campaign suspensions. We will be updating this page with any and all news leading up to the primary, so be sure to check back!

2. In 5 of the last 6 elections, the winner of South Carolina went on to win the GOP nomination

If y’all didn’t think the South was important before, that pretty much sums it up. Only Newt Gingrich (former Speaker of the House) has won South Carolina and gone on to lose the nomination. He is a Georgia boy, so that gave him a decided advantage down here. 

3. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush each have a SC senator endorsement

The Palmetto State’s two GOP senators have endorsed the two Florida guys. Lindsey Graham favors Jeb Bush and Tim Scott is a fan of Marco Rubio.

Now, many are debating the relevance of endorsements in this race because outsiders seem to be ruling the road. Either way, in this confusing political landscape, it’s sometimes nice to have the trust of someone you already voted in office.

UPDATE: Marco Rubio has also picked up an endorsement from South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. She has an astounding 81% approval rate in the state of South Carolina, so her nod could mean a lot for Rubio.

4. The delegate process if super confusing

In both Iowa and New Hampshire, delegates were awarded by congressional district. So if you won the popular vote in a district you get the delegates. Simple as that. Easy peasy.

Well South Carolina isn’t so easy peasy. Let’s call this a “winner takes most” system. There are 50 total delegates up for grabs. Twenty-six of those are at-large, meaning they are winner takes all. If you win the popular vote in the state, you get all 26 of those delegates. Then there are 3 automatic delegates that are also winner takes all. So the person with the most votes in South Carolina gets 29 delegates.

Next, you have 21 congressional district delegates, which are divided equally among the seven congressional districts in SC.

So the candidate who wins the state gets the majority of the delegates, but not necessarily all.

What does this mean for you?

Nothing, really. Just get out there and vote. 

5. Here they come! When and where will the candidates be in the Lowcountry?

Donald Trump

Monday, Feb. 15 – TD Convention Center, Greenville, SC 

Wednesday, Feb. 17 – 2724 Green Pond Hwy, Walterboro, SC

Friday, Feb. 19 – The Myrtle Beach Sports Center, Myrtle Beach, SC

Friday, Feb. 19 – Pawley's Island Country Club, Pawley's Island, SC

Friday, Feb. 19 – North Charleston Convention Center, Charleston, SC

Marco Rubio

Friday, Feb. 12 – Pre-Debate Rally, Greenville Downtown Airport, Greenville, SC

Sunday, Feb. 14 – Easley High School Auditorium, Easley, SC

Friday, Feb. 19 – Columbia Rally, Columbia Marriott, Columbia SC

Friday, Feb. 19 – Hilton Head Rally, Hilton Head Airport, HHI, SC

Friday, Feb. 19 – Charleston Rally, RB Stall High School, Charleston, SC

Jeb Bush

Friday, Feb. 12 – Civic Center of Anderson, Anderson, SC

Saturday, Feb. 13 – Younts Performing Arts Center, Fountain Inn, SC

Monday, Feb. 15 – Charleston Rally with Pres. George W. Bush, Charleston, SC

Friday, Feb. 19 – Golden Corner Rally with Barbara Bush, DW Daniel High School, Central, SC

Ted Cruz

Sunday Feb. 14 – Church Service with Senator Cruz, Community Bible Church, Beaufort, SC

Monday, Feb. 15 – Aiken Rally ft. Glenn Beck, USC Aiken, Aiken, SC

John Kasich

Friday, Feb. 12 – Dukes BBQ, Orangeburg, SC

Friday, Feb. 12 – Sun City Hilton Head Town Hall, The Pavilion, Bluffton, SC

Saturday, Feb. 13 – Greenville Meet & Greet, Mutt's BBQ, Mauldin, SC

Friday, Feb. 19 – Election Eve Rally, USS Yorktown, Mt. Pleasant, SC

Ben Carson

Friday, Feb. 12, Faith and Family Presidential Forum, Bob Jones University, Greenville, SC

Monday, Feb. 15 – Revive 714, Spartanburg Marriott, Spartanburg, SC 

Friday, Feb. 19 – Florence Town Hall, Florence Civic Center, Florence, SC

Democratic Primary

Democrats vote Saturday, Feb. 27.

After Hillary took Iowa and Bernie nabbed New Hampshire, it seems the race is only getting hotter on the democrat’s side, despite having only two candidates.

While Iowa was down to the wire, New Hampshire saw a clear victory for Senator Sanders. This will give him a fresh burst of momentum as he heads South.

Here’s what you need to know heading into the democratic primary in South Carolina.

1. You're not next!

Unlike the republicans, democrats in South Carolina have another state ahead of them. The Nevada primary for democrats comes a week before South Carolina’s.

Because their election date is a little later, Bernie and Hillary won’t be spending much time in the Lowcountry just yet. Be sure to follow your favorite on social media to see when they will be making appearances in your area.

2. The delegate system is just as confusing.

As for the delegates, there is actually more at stake for the dems in South Carolina. There are 59 delegates up for grabs for the democrats in the Palmetto State. Eighteen of those are at large. So the winner of the popular vote in the state automatically gets 18 delegates. The other 35 delegates are divided by population among the seven congressional districts. You win a district, you get those delegates.

These rules make the South Carolina game a little more competitive for the democrats.

What does this mean for you?

Again, nothing. Just go out and cast your vote. 

3. When and where will the candidates be in SC?

According to their websites, neither candidate has any schedule appearances in South Carolina quite yet. Our guess is they'll make their rounds in Nevada then head South the following week. Stay tuned here for updates!