List of Winners of the South Carolina Republican Primary

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Ben Carson at a Wounded Warrior Project Event. Getty Images - Brent N. Clarke

For 2016, the South Carolina Republican Primary was be held on February 20th, 2016. It was the third contest overall following the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary earlier in the month. Donald J. Trump won the primary

“First in the South”

South Carolina is a very crucial primary state as it is the third contest in the nominating process, the first in the south, and the first held in a region dominated by Republicans.

South Carolina often serves as a “tie-breaker” after the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Since 1980, no candidate has won both Iowa and New Hampshire in the same year (in contested elections) and South Carolina went on to pick the eventual nominee in every year but one. In 2012, Newt Gingrich won the state, but did not win either Iowa or New Hampshire first.

In 2016, South Carolina could actually be the most important state of the first four. It will be the first contest that will likely feature a condensed field after some candidates drop out after faltering in Iowa or New Hampshire. It is also a crucial build-up to the "SEC Primary" and many southern states could follow South Carolina's lead. There are 50 delegates up for grabs, making it just the 16th most delegate-rich state. However, the momentum provided by a win here is what the real value of victory is.

Past Winners

South Carolina does not have a "typical" candidate that they support.

While Iowa usually selects a more socially conservative candidate and New Hampshire a more establishment-friendly one, South Carolina is often all over the map. But the voters typically do help decide the winner, and have done so in 5 of the last 6 contested races. These are the recent victors:

2016 - Reality TV Star Donald Trump

2012 - Fmr. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich

2008 - US Senator John McCain of Arizona

2000 - Texas Governor George W. Bush

1996 - US Senator Bob Dole of Kansas

1988 – Vice-President George H.W. Bush

1980 – Fmr. California Governor Ronald Reagan

State Power Players

There are a number of state leaders that could have a positive impact on the race if they choose to endorse a candidate. Nikki Haley is the state's Governor and one of the most popular Republicans in the country. She is a potential Vice-presidential prospect for a number of candidates. US Senator Tim Scott is another very popular figure in the GOP and the first black US Senator in the south since Reconstruction in the 1800s. The state's other US Senator is Lindsey Graham, who also happens to be running for the Presidency. He has not gained much traction and remains in the low single digits in his home state.

2016  Candidates

15 Candidates filed for the South Carolina ballot by the deadline. Those candidates will appear on the ballot alphabetically as listed below:

Jeb Bush - Former Governor of Florida

Ben Carson - Author and Retired Neurosurgeon

Chris Christie - Governor of New Jersey

Ted Cruz - US Senator from Texas

Carly Fiorina - Retired CEO

Jim Gilmore - Former Governor of Virginia

Lindsey Graham - US Senator from South Carolina

Mike Huckabee - Former Governor of Arkansas

Bobby Jindal (Withdrawn from race) - Governor of Louisiana

John R. Kasich -  Governor of Ohio

George E. Pataki -  Former Governor of New York

Rand Paul -  US Senator from Kentucky

Marco Rubio - US Senator from Florida

Rick Santorum - Former US Senator from Pennsylvania

Donald J. Trump - Reality TV Star (+WINNER)

2016 in Review

Three candidates appeared to be the most competitive in the state. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio had been polling best in recent months. There's still a chance an outsider such as Jeb Bush or Ben Carson could have re-emerged as competitive. Trump is a north-eastern moderate who appears to have less in common with voters from the south but is willing to (literally) say anything.

Cruz is occupying much of the same space as Trump in the red-meat category, while Rubio fits the mold of previous winners. Trump finished first in the state, followed by Rubio in second, and Cruz in third. Jeb Bush dropped out of the race following another disappointing finish.