Track: South Carolina Primary Returns

This map shows not only the tally statewide and in each of South Carolina's 46 counties, it also uses Patchwork Nation calculations to show how the candidates are doing in each of the state's five community types – from the wealthy "Monied 'Burbs" to "Military Bastions."

Suddenly the numbers have moved and polls show former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has surged to the front of pack in South Carolina primary. The change may have been sudden but it was not fully unexpected. It just goes to show something political analysts know and Patchwork Nation has documented – South Carolina is not New Hampshire.

A little over a week ago – or a million years in terms of the politics of this year’s GOP presidential race – Patchwork Nation noted that New Hampshire, with its wealthier, less ideological populace, was a great fit for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. And the results proved that out.

He won a larger percentage of the vote than he or Sen. John McCain won in 2008 – 39 percent to 37 percent for McCain. And using Patchwork Nation’s demographic/geographic breakdown of counties, he won in all of the state’s county types from the wealthy Monied Burbs to the small town Service Worker Centers.

But New Hampshire was all about the Burbs – 61 percent of the state’s population lives in those counties that are wealthier and better educated than the electorate at large.

In South Carolina, less than 10 percent of population lives in the Monied Burbs. Instead the population is broken primarily into three types of county: the culturally conservative Evangelical Epicenters (yellow on the map below), African-American heavy Minority Central (in orange) and the Boom Towns (in rust), which experienced rapid growth at the beginning of the last decade.

 

Those Patchwork Nation county types hold more than 4 million of the 4.6 million people who live in the state and, on the whole, they are more conservative than the Burbs. The Epicenters and Minority Central counties in particular tend to be more socially conservative – especially the Republicans in those places.

Tonight watch those three types of county. Romney could do OK in the Boom Towns and strong turnout there and the Monied Burbs could help him with the state. He needs to win those counties and probably win them by large margins.

But the Epicenters and Minority Central should be Gingrich’s territory, if the current poll numbers are correct. If Gingrich runs up big numbers in those places, he will likely be hard to stop in South Carolina.