Final SC GOP primary result:
From the exit poll:
Rubio escaped most of the mudslinging though he was the target of a very expensive mail campaign by the political action committee supporting Jeb Bush. Ironically, now that Jeb Bush has dropped out of the race it would appear that Rubio will be the prime recipient of Bush's supporters who tend to be more pro-establishment.
There is a strong desire on the part of many GOP voters to support a candidate who is NOT Donald Trump. Cruz and Rubio would seem to be the obvious contenders for that mantle. Now that Rubio looks ready to mount a more serious challenge will the Trump attack machine be turned on him next? Will Rubio do a better job than Cruz in avoiding getting sucked into the mud?
Why doesn't Trump pay a bigger price for the mud throwing? Well, it's clear his supporters don't care. Remember when Trump said "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters." That may be true. But it may also be true that Trump's tactics are turning off a large portion of GOP voters that would be needed in the fall if Trump is the GOP nominee.
Trump continues to benefit from having both Cruz and Rubio split the ABT (Anybody but Trump) vote. Once we enter states with winner take all primaries Trump can win with 30% of the vote and clinch the GOP nomination.
P.S. Trump won evangelical Christian vote in SC. What's up with that?