Update, 9:50 p.m.: With almost all precincts reporting, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are more or less tied for second place—right now Rubio's at 22.4 percent and Cruz is at 22.3. Given that Trump will end up with most of South Carolina's delegates given the state's allocation process, the difference between second and third is academic, and I'm signing off for the night. Your South Carolina takeaway: Trump is still the frontrunner, Bush is out, and Marco Rubio's dream of being the guy who wins by virtue of being the last remaining non-Trump candidate is still alive.
Update, 9:20 p.m.: Bush and his affiliated Super PAC spent $85 million on the 2016 campaign; his best finish was 11 percent in New Hampshire. "The people of Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken and I really respect their decision, so tonight I am suspending my campaign," he said in his brief remarks tonight. Video:
Update, 8:45 p.m.: CNN reported minutes ago that Jeb Bush is suspending his campaign, and the candidate just confirmed while speaking to supporters. Jeb is out.
Update, 8:25 p.m.: Cruz and Rubio are still neck-and-neck for second place in the returns that have come in so far—both are in the 21, 22 percent range. One person whose neck is nowhere near the finish line is Jeb Bush, who's sitting at around 9 percent despite his brother still being quite popular in South Carolina. Jeb-related chatter online is centered on the question of whether he'll drop out (which presumably would throw the support of his tens of hardcore fans towards Rubio). Not good, Jeb.
Update, 7:32 p.m.: Fox News, CBS, NBC, ABC, and the AP have just called South Carolina for Trump. Still no word on whether it's Cruz or Rubio in second.
Update, 7:03 p.m.: Polls in South Carolina just closed; all three major cable networks say the race is too close to call between Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio.
Trump, incidentally, closed out his South Carolina campaign last night by enthusiastically repeating an urban legend about a 1900-era general committing a war crime against Muslims.
Original post, 6:46 p.m.: With 15 minutes to go before the Republican primary polls close in South Carolina, here are some interesting exit-poll factoids from ABC:
- The top concern of voters asked to say whether immigration, the economy, terrorism, or government spending was the most important issue facing the country was terrorism at 32 percent.
- Everyone is VERY ANGRY! Ninety-two percent of voters said they are "dissatisfied or angry" about the federal government vs. only 8 percent who said they are "enthusiastic or satisfied."
I'm not a highly paid campaign operative, but to me that sounds like a recipe for a Trump victory. Real Clear Politics' poll averages going into voting today, FWIW, have Trump at 32 percent, Rubio and Cruz at 19 percent, and the other guys at, like, less percents.