Just got back from the polls down here in South Carolina. It was very quick and easy, as turnout seems to be light and my polling place is a five minute walk from my house. We use automatic voting machines here, very modern touch pad machines... not sure who the manufacturer is, but certainly the type that conspiracy theorists find objectionable. As in all polling places, the operation was run a by a bunch of blue hairs who were slow but determined.

Fox News just called Nevada for Romney (1:30 in the afternoon). The press will do its best to play down the win, but there were more delegates at stake in Nevada than here in South Carolina and the Republican primary may eventually turn into a delegate counting exercise. So it is an important win for Mitt. And it was a total blow out. With 50% of the precincts reporting, Mitt has 80% of the votes!

The polls in South Carolina have been all over the place. I can say from first hand experience that there are a lot of uncommitted voters here. I personally got about fifty votes switched over the Mitt in the last week. With bad weather upstate (Huckabee country) and low turnout state wide, the candidates with the most committed voters will do the best. That is good for Mitt.

Still it's an uphill battle for the Romney campaign in South Carolina. Mitt effectively abandoned the state after his Michigan win. I saw him on Wednesday and he looked sick and tired (apparently he was both). But I can't say his strategy is wrong. This is a different kind of primary season and I doubt seriously that South Carolina will have the importance it has had in the past. Florida is the state to watch this time. But even it will have less importance. It is pretty clear that we will need to see what happens on Super Tuesday.

In any case, here is my prediction for South Carolina:

  1. McCain
  2. Romney
  3. Thompson
  4. Huckabee
  5. Giuliani
  6. Paul
Go Pats!

Update: That 80% number noted above seems to be wrong. Fox is now saying Romney will win with about 45% of the vote. Still very much the biggest percentage any candidate has gotten so far in this primary season.