Hey... I Resemble That!

The often tiresome Jonathon Martin has nailed a key issue of the early primary race in the Republican Party. Due to the growth of South Carolina (and the "New South"), leading Republican candidates find themselves free of the traditional "pivot" required in the move from Iowa and New Hampshire into the South Carolina primary.

An examination of Census data going back to 1970 shows a plummeting population of native-born South Carolinians.

In the coastal counties and fast-growing communities where 70 percent and above of residents were once locals, the number has now fallen at or below half and is rapidly trending southward.

“This isn’t Carroll Campbell’s South Carolina anymore, this is Mark Sanford’s South Carolina,” Walker said, comparing the iconic former governor and Greenville native with the current chief executive, whose family moved to the Lowcountry from Florida.

The political impact of the migration has, on one level, been quite simple: Republicans have become dominant and their statewide primaries have become nearly tantamount to election.

“You take the right-wing evangelicals and more moderate transplants, and you end up with a wide spectrum of people who are voting Republicans on election day,” explains Rick Beltram, chairman of the Spartanburg County GOP and a New Jersey native.

But while the “come-heres” may be reliably Republican, their brand of conservatism is more geared toward fiscal matters and national security.

“We’ve become a microcosm of the red states across the country rather than some right-wing spot on the map,” is how Beltram explains it. And that change marks a crucial pivot for the current GOP field — and for Romney and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in particular.

The result is that more moderate Republican candidates can win in the New South, allowing Republicans a little more breathing room in the early caucuses and primaries, as well as the general election.