...or so they like to say. The reality is that Iowa and New Hampshire have usually chased away all the underfunded klingons suffering from delusions of grandeur about someday occupying the Oval Office by the time the genteel people of South Carolina get a chance to vote. Not so this year, although Michelle 'Snow White' Bachmann and Jon 'Doc' Huntsman have already exited the race after less than stellar performances in the early states. This year there are still five presidential contenders as the Mitt Romney Express rolls into the Palmetto State (is that for the tree or the bug or both?) South Carolinians will have their say this coming Saturday (January 21st) and though it is all but certain a majority of them will vote against the presumed nominee it is likely that Gov. Romney will carry a plurality of voters in the state. Even after the votes have been counted and the circus train has moved on to Florida for the January 31st primary, it is likely three of Romney's challengers will continue their campaigns. Odds are that the candidate to be dismissed will be Gov. Rick 'Dopey' Perry come Sunday or Monday. Yet, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and perhaps Rick Santorum are liable to continue the fight into the southern states, a region not quite so fond of the 'Massachusetts Moderate.' Newt 'Happy' Gingrich will just go on running oblivious of the fact that his campaign is broke...unless he pulls the upset in SC and gets a new surge of cash donations. Ron 'Sleepy' Paul can count on his band of supporters to launch another money bomb soon that will fund him through February (he's really running so he can have a say in the party platform). Rick 'Sneezy' Santorum will need a better than expected 2nd or very close 3rd in SC to continue his insurgent campaign. SC is a socially conservative state and should do better here than in NH, but the Romney Express may have already left the station.
What is it about a nomination system that places the choice of a party nominee with so few voters? After SC the total number of votes cast in the first three states will still be less than the number of votes that will be cast in Florida alone. The process deliberately places emphasis on the ability to create a ground organization that turns out supporters. Only Romney and Paul have been effective in that regard. Barring an upset win by 'Happy' Gingrich, Mitt 'Bashful' Romney ought to be crowned with the GOP nod Saturday evening. If Newt does pull off the upset then all bets are off as the south is much more favorable to Gingrich/Santorum than to Romney or Paul. So go ahead SC, pick a president, or at least a nominee. America is watching.