Who's Stayin' Alive After South Carolina?

11:11 P.M.

Final Thoughts:

Trump won, as was expected. The travesty is that it seems evangelicals supported him (despite him saying he doesn't  know if he's ever asked God for forgiveness -- and asking God for forgiveness is kind of the key point of Christianity).

Jeb Bush was a better man than many expected him to be, and his concession speech was noble, worthy of his father and brother. If Jeb! could do one thing right, this was it.

Cruz's "victory" speech was not convincing. Rubio beat him (although only by a few hundred votes), and seems to be emerging as the viable establishment candidate. Cruz is still the only candidate who has beaten Trump in the past, but Rubio is likely to earn Bush's supporters, and that will help narrow the gap with The Donald.

The race is fundamentally between Trump, Rubio, and Cruz. Ben Carson should drop out, but he won't. Kasich can rest on his second-place New Hampshire laurels for a while, but he likely won't go anywhere either.

If this crazy primary has proven anything (beyond Trump's zany celebrity), it is that the anti-Citizens United alarmists are dead wrong. Money doesn't buy elections -- Bush had the most money, and he lost the first three races and is gone before March. We don't need campaign finance reform to ensure voters will make the difference because, for good or ill, they already do.

11:05 P.M.

South Carolina awards 50 delegates to the July Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. 29 are awarded to the winner, with 21 split up and three each given to the winners of the seven congressional districts. 1,239 delegates are required for a candidate to win the nomination.

Current projections are spotty, but it looks as though Trump may sweep the state, taking each congressional district, and gaining 50 delegates. Rubio is vying for South Carolina's first congressional district, although latest numbers show Trump ahead there, as well.

10:55 P.M.

Now that's quite a photo, Buzzfeed.

And here's a cool Ted Cruz crowd shot.

10:43 P.M.

Breitbart's Ben Shapiro says it's up to Marco Rubio to offer Ted Cruz the VP slot or the Supreme Court nomination, so that Rubio can consolidate the anti-Trump vote and defeat him with delegates.

This is a solid plan, but it neglects a key arguing point -- a lot of Cruz's support might end up going to Trump, thus undoing the central plan.

10:27 P.M.

Lol -- this is right on.

We should only add: Trump -- it's a one man race.

10:24 P.M.

Following his second place finish in South Carolina (essentially tied with Cruz, behind Trump), Rubio -- and his campaign effort -- jumps into overdrive.

And FiveThirtyEight is positive about its prediction that Jeb Bush would not be a strong contender for the GOP nomination.

10:21 P.M.

Cruz reminds supporters that he's the only candidate to have defeated Donald Trump. Rubio may have a lot of endorsements, but he has not won a single state.

“If you are a conservative this is where you belong because only one strong conservative is in a position to win this race … We are the only campaign that has beaten and can beat Donald Trump,” Cruz said. “I congratulate Donald on his victory tonight but I will say this to the people of America if you don’t believe that Donald trump is the best candidate to run against Hillary Clinton in November if you believe we need a strong contrast with the Democrats then we welcome you aboard our team.”

10:16 P.M.

This is damning.

And Trump may have taken a beating for his anti-George W. Bush rants.

10:14 P.M.

Some say Cruz's loss to Trump tonight deals a huge blow to the Texas Senator's campaign.

There are reasons to be skeptical, however. Cruz has long kept his eye on the March 1 primaries, which include Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama, among others. He never promised a victory in South Carolina, only that it is friendly territory, and his third place finish (really a tie for second) doesn't entirely negate that.

Still, tonight looks much better for Rubio and Trump.

9:53 P.M.

This race may come down to the Trump vs. the Anti-Trump. Evangelicals are reportedly split over who that is.

The results of South Carolina are remarkably consistent - Trump ahead at 32 percent, while there are two well-defined tiers below him.

Tier 2 -- Cruz and Rubio, both with 22 percent, separated by only 1,000 votes.

Tier 3 -- Bush, Kasich, and Carson, all with 7 percent. Bush, the guy who dropped out, leads this tier, and Carson, the guy who hasn't ranked in the top three in any state, is dead last. Seeing these results, the question isn't why Jeb dropped but why Carson hasn't.

9:51 P.M.

Less than 1,000 votes separate Rubio and Cruz, vying for second place.

Rubio is the second choice for a lot of voters.

9:46 P.M.

Rubio is leading big in the "endorsement primary."

So here's the question:

At least Jeb Bush kept his dignity.

9:39 P.M.

Cruz-Rubio race for second place is still too close to call, even with 93.5 percent reporting.

Rubio - 147,067 votes, 22.4 percent.

Cruz - 145,388 votes, 22.1 percent.

Steve Deace is lamenting that the Senators have been attacking each other.

9:35 P.M.

With Jeb Bush out, Marco Rubio may be the most likely nominee.

And this is truly a sad night for conservative Evangelicals.

9:28 P.M.

Cruz may take second place, although that's becoming doubtful, but he may not win one single county.

Results (87.0 percent reporting)

Trump -- 33.1 percent. Rubio -- 22.2 percent. Cruz -- 21.8 percent.

Bush -- 8.2 percent. Kasich -- 7.8 percent. Carson -- 6.9 percent.

9:21 P.M.

Marco Rubio calls Jeb Bush "the greatest governor in the history of Florida."

Rubio just became the establishment candidate. John Kasich may have a number 2 in New Hampshire, but Rubio has all the momentum.

9:17 P.M.

With dignity, Carson thanks his campaign staff for "wonderful work" in South Carolina.

Meanwhile, the press is flabbergasted, scratching their heads and asking themselves "does he know something we don't?"

9:14 P.M.

Jeb Bush drops out. And there [really, really, REALLY] was much rejoicing.



9:12 P.M.

So money buys elections. Citizens United has made our democracy an oligarchy. Bernie Sanders says it, so it must be true. Oh wait...

9:07 P.M.

The army of presidential candidates is down to 5. Carson, who never ranked first, second, or third in each of the three early voting states, is still intransigent.

And Trump says the only thing stopping his crowds is walls.

9:03 P.M.

People praising Jeb for being a bigger man and dropping out.

His withdrawal speech should be a good model for the good doctor.

8:58 P.M.

By the way, reports are still coming in, and Rubio is ahead! 70.2 percent reporting:

Trump -- 33.2 percent. Rubio -- 22.3 percent. Cruz -- 21.6 percent.

Kasich -- 8.1 percent. Bush -- 8.0 percent. Carson -- 6.8 percent.

In a rare moment of peace, Trump congratulated Rubio and Cruz. Trump repeats "we're going to build the wall, and who's going to build the wall?" "Mexico!" the crowd roars.

Trump criticizes people counting up the anti-Trump vote -- as people drop out, their supporters will back me as well.

8:53 P.M.

A note on Jeb Bush's withdrawal: Campaign finance alarmists have been warning us about Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allowed independent groups (including Unions) to spend money to advocate political speech. They said money should not be able to buy elections, but that's not what has happened. Instead, Citizens United has allowed challengers to pose a real threat to incumbent candidates, who have nearly every advantage in any political race.

Bush, and his Super PACs, raised more money than all other candidates on the Republican side, and he lost all three of the early state primaries, and has withdrawn from the race. Money can't buy elections -- voters will always make the difference. Remember that the next time Bernie Sanders gives a speech.

8:47 P.M.

Another one bites the dust. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush suspended his campaign, moments ago, in a great concession speech. "I congratulate my competitors that are remaining on the island."

Is the race a reality show?

8:44 P.M.

THAT'S IT. Jeb has dropped out.

"Over the last seven years, our nation's bright light has become a flicker." Jeb Bush on the Obama Presidency. Strong end.


8:41 P.M.

Is the chance to replace Scalia dashed with Donald Trump gaining momentum in South Carolina?

And Jeb Bush is giving a drop out speech.

8:38 P.M.

Jeb! Bush is on deathwatch.

And Carson's image may be taking a hit, the longer he stays in the race.

8:36 P.M.

THIS JUST IN: After coming in last place in South Carolina, Ben Carson is... staying in.

8:34 P.M.

The Guardian's Trump is hilarious. But this map is scary:

SC Primary Results

8:31 P.M.

Nate Silver says there are good points for and against Trump, coming out of South Carolina.

If Iowa was a great night for early Trump skeptics and New Hampshire was a terrible one, South Carolina looks about halfway in between. Trump skeptics can point out he didn’t improve on his performance from New Hampshire despite several candidates dropping out, which suggests he may indeed have a ceiling. They can also say that Marco Rubio has moved pretty clearly ahead in the “establishment lane” primary, giving Trump a major rival down the road.

Meanwhile, Trump optimists can point to the scoreboard — two wins in three states — including one where he’s going to win a lot of delegates tonight. They can ask how soon Kasich and Bush are really going to drop out. They could say their guy is likely to win a three-way race with Rubio and Cruz both still in, even if a one-on-one race might be a problem for him. So there’s something for everyone tonight.

And Ben Carson supporters have fun with the bear meme.

8:29 P.M.

As votes are counted in South Carolina, there are also reports of a shooting.

And Cruz still barely ahead of Rubio.

8:25 P.M.

Something to keep in mind, as people start shouting for Cruz or Rubio to drop out of the race.

Oh, and here are some more results.

8:20 P.M.

Ann Coulter: Anyone who has foreign parents and supports Rubio must be an immigrant. Where's Nikki Haley's Birth Certificate?

Also, bears are huge for Ben Carson. He can't drop out until America looks like this:

8:18 P.M.

Sophisticated break-down of the Trump and anti-Trump vote:

Cruz ahead of Rubio again -- for now.

8:15 P.M.

If the good doctor drops out, all of his support may not go to Trump.

And BREAKING -- John Kasich declares victory, from Massachusetts!

8:10 P.M.

Rubio pulls ahead of Cruz, but the results are still very close -- 18.7 percent reporting:

Trump -- 33.8 percent. Rubio -- 21.7 percent. Cruz -- 21.3 percent.

Kasich -- 8.6 percent. Bush -- 8.5 percent. Carson -- 6.1 percent.

One of the Senators got this man's vote.

8:05 P.M.

Did the Cruz-Rubio shootout hurt both parties?

And here's Nate Silver on why Rubio in third is still good for the Florida Senator:

If other candidates, particularly Jeb Bush and John Kasich, don’t drop out relatively soon, that could be a big problem for Rubio. And perhaps voters’hypothetical second choices in polls won’t match their actual choices as the field winnows.

But it’s not a complicated, “underwear gnomes” theory. It’s a simple theory. If the bulk of the Bush/Kasich vote eventually goes to Rubio — that’s about 18 percent of the vote based on the results so far tonight — he’ll run very competitively with Trump and start winning states.

8:02 P.M.

An hour after polls close, here are the incoming results: 8.3 percent reporting.

Trump -- 33.6 percent. Cruz -- 22.3 percent. Rubio -- 21.0 percent.

Bush -- 9.6 percent. Kasich -- 7.2 percent. Carson -- 6.4 percent.

Here's Ben Howe:

7:58 P.M.

Donald Trump wins. And there was much rejoicing:

By the way, this is the real scary part.

7:47 P.M.

Get ready for a nasty primary to get even nastier.

BREAKING: Every candidate but Trump calls for every other candidate but Trump to exit the race, so he can beat Trump mano-a-mano.

7:45 P.M.

After his victory in South Carolina, Trump still needs to cross his fingers.

Putting this in perspective.

7:41 P.M.

If Trump's numbers sag, just a bit, this might still be a three-candidate race. Jonah Goldberg has some ideas on that.

And this guy is also right on. The Evangelical support for Trump is baffling -- and I say that as an Evangelical.

7:37 P.M.

Check out The Guardian's Trump Emoji:

He may have won, but the other results are still important. If Jeb Bush still lags behind Cruz and Rubio, there will be pressure for him to drop out. There will also be pressure on Ben Carson, who should have done much better in a state with high Evangelical turnout.

7:30 P.M.

A bit premature? NBC projecting Trump as the winner.

CNN has 1 percent reporting, RealClearPolitics is showing 0 percent. What does CNBC know that they don't? Although ABC is saying the same thing:

7:22 P.M.

Angry voters broke for Trump (38 percent), with Cruz close behind (28 percent), and then Rubio (18 percent).

By the way, an astounding 74 percent of SC voters favor a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants to the U.S.

7:16 P.M.

Terrorism, Economy, Government Spending beat Immigration as most important issues for SC Primary voters.

SC Exit Poll Most Important Issue

Many say the results of the South Carolina Primary will be the best predictor for who becomes the Republican nominee. But how did that work out in 2012?

7:11 P.M.

South Carolina is considered make-or-break for many campaigns. It is Cruz's test to see how well he does in the South before the big March 1 primary, and it is Rubio's chance to shore up the electability argument. If Bush cannot do well here, where his brother is very popular, that may cast a huge shadow over his campaign.

ABC News is reporting that exit polls show a "three person race" between Trump, Cruz, and Rubio. South Carolina may be a lot closer than predicted.

7:04 P.M.

Minutes after polls closed, FiveThirtyEight is projecting that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush...

And Cruz was NOT campaigning in South Carolina this morning -- he was inside the Beltway, but for good reason.

6:58 P.M.

As polls close at 7 PM, here are a few thoughts on predictions for the outcome of the South Carolina Primary:

SC Primary Prediction

FiveThirtyEight gives Donald Trump a 71 percent chance of winning, with Rubio and Cruz tied at 11 percent. Exit polls show last-minute deciders are leaning more to Rubio and Cruz, which could lessen these chances. Even so, Trump is the clear favorite.

And this is just for fun.

6:55 P.M.

SC Exit Poll Unfair

33 percent of SC Primary voters said Ted Cruz's campaign was the most unfair. Only Trump was higher, at 41 percent. But Rush Limbaugh had this to say:

And I love you, Ted Cruz, but no. Just no.

6:48 P.M.

Bernie Sanders still predicts victory in the Democrat Primary, despite loss in Nevada.


6:46 P.M.

This is from Hillary Clinton's Nevada victory speech.

But don't forget the enemies she's most proud of.

6:39 P.M.

A word on the Nevada Democrat results -- Clinton beat Sanders, but the race was still close. FiveThirtyEight predicted Clinton would win 52 percent to Sanders's 46 percent. With 80.3 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton stands at 52.1 percent, Sanders at 47.8 percent.

NV Dem Projected

Closer than predicted, but called for Clinton. Here's why she won:

6:33 P.M.

Trump struggles among late-deciders, according to South Carolina exit polls.

Almost half of SC primary voters say it matters "a great deal" that a Republican candidate shares their religious beliefs. Good news for Rubio, Cruz.

SC Exit Poll Religion

6:30 P.M.

Preliminary exit polls are in from South Carolina. Feel free to despair for our country.

SC Exit Poll Economy

And Trump digs at Rubio.

6:30 P.M.

The Nevada Democrat Caucus has been called for Hillary Clinton.

Might this be why?