First in the South: Why South Carolina's Presidential Primary Matters

Feb 17, 2020

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Every four years presidential hopefuls and the national media travel the primary election circuit through Iowa and New Hampshire. Once the dust settles in these states, the nation's focus turns to South Carolina, the first primary in the delegate-rich South. Historically Iowa and New Hampshire have dominated the news because they are first, not because of their predictive ability or representativeness. In First in the South: Why South Carolina's Presidential Primary Matters (2020, USC Press), H. Gibbs Knotts and Jordan M. Ragusa make the case for shifting the national focus to South Carolina because of its clarifying and often-predictive role in selecting presidential nominees for both the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Knotts and Ragusa talk with Walter Edgar about how they established the foundation for their claim, and then detail how South Carolina achieved its coveted "First in the South" status and examine the increasing importance of this primary since the first contest in 1980.

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