7:30 PM Exit polls are up. Gingrich very strong across the board with key demographics which may factor in future primaries.
- No big problem with the female vote. Newt won both men and women with only 5% better with men.
- Newt won every age group except the 18-29 which went to Ron Paul.
- Newt won voters with every level of education except those with postgraduate study which went to Romney.
- Newt won both married and single voters.
- Newt won all income groups except those above $200k which went to Romney.
- Newt won the Independent vote by 30%. Paul got 27% and Romney 26%
- Newt won conservatives and Tea Partiers. Romney won moderates, liberals and those who oppose the Tea Party.
- Those with strong religious beliefs went to Newt. Others went to Romney.
- Voters against abortion went to Newt. Those who think abortion should be legal went to Romney.
- Most important issues were the budget deficit and the economy. Those who gave that as their answer voted for Newt overwhelmingly. Those who said abortion was their top issue went to Santorum.
- Gingrich won voters who said beating Obama was the most important quality.
- Newt won voters who said being a "true conservative" was the most important.
- Newt won voters who said the "right experience" was most important.
- Santorum won among voters who said a "strong moral character" was most important.
- 28% of respondents said that Romney's background as an investor was a negative.
- 31% said Romney ran the "most unfair campaign." 25% said that of Gingrich.
- Newt won among voters who decided in the past few weeks. Romney won with voters who made up their minds early on.
- Debates were important to 65% of respondents and the majority of them went to Newt.
- Urban voters went to Romney. Suburban and rural to Newt.
7 PM NEWT WINS!
6:55 PM Want to know why the SC primary is so important? Here's a factoid from the Washington Post:
While Iowa’s caucuses can lay claim to being first vote of the presidential race and New Hampshire is proud of its first-in-the-nation primary, South Carolina has traditionally been the place where winners win. While the other two have spotty records on this front, South Carolina has picked every Republican nominee since its front-of-the-calendar primary began in 1980.6:10 PM Early exit polls results being reported at Fox News show Gingrich strong in evangelical/tea party vote. A good sign that he will have a strong night. Hint also that Newt's problem with women might not be so bad.
5 PM Saturday. Polls close at 7 PM
Here's some prepartory material if you want to analyze and follow tonight's developments:
Exit polls will be key to showing what impact if any the ABC interview with Newt's ex wife Marianne had on the outcome. Keep in mind that Newt has always polled better with men than with women.
The Washington Post has a list of five key factors, including the female vote, to watch for:
1. Battle of the sexes
2. Religious divide
3. South Carolina’s tea party like Iowa’s or N.H.?
4. Older voters
5. Romney’s Bain
Each of the above factors will play a role as we go forward to Florida where the Romney campaign has a firewall. A good article by Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard describes that effort.
Key counties to watch
Compare results to 2008 GOP primary results county by county.
Mike's America is in Beaufort County which went to McCain by 42% with Romney second at 26%. Turnout in B.C. is reported to be stronger than in 2008.
Updates as the evening unfolds.