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#SC2018: Where Will The Pieces Fall?

Three, two, one …

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On the eve of the 2018 “Republican” gubernatorial election in South Carolina, the relationship status of the top three candidates in the race is not unlike the famous social media status of commitment-averse millennials.

“It’s complicated.”

Indeed it is …

Polls are in uniform agreement that the fight for the GOP nomination has a clear first place candidate (incumbent governor Henry McMaster), a clear second place candidate (Upstate businessman John Warren) and a clear third place candidate (Lowcountry labor attorney Catherine Templeton).

But where will these three pieces fall? 

While the order of finish may indeed be calcifying (or not), those with access to the latest internal polls are seeing varying levels of support for each of the three top tier GOP candidates.

Buoyed by recent polling, McMaster backers are supremely confident.  They believe Templeton’s scorched earth campaign against Warren has had the effect of dragging down both of these “conservative outsiders” – thus benefitting the guffawing, glad-handing career politician.

Do we believe McMaster will come close to the fifty percent (plus one) mark required to win the GOP nomination on the first ballot tomorrow?  No, we do not … but he’s clearly in better shape than he was a week ago when it comes to a likely head-to-head runoff election on June 26.

For that he can thank Templeton …

At the precise moment in the campaign when voters started paying attention, Templeton began carpet bombing Warren – driving up his negatives while at the same time effectively muting months of accurate and effective criticism of McMaster.  Not surprisingly, McMaster’s free fall in the polls has been arrested … and according to one recent survey he has actually gained ground as the race approaches the wire.

Will it be enough?

The order of finish on Tuesday evening obviously matters a great deal, but what matters most is the number each campaign puts up.

Clearly the best case scenario for McMaster is any number north of 50 percent.  If he hits that mark, he is the GOP nominee.   Period.

Again, we don’t think his late break will be enough to get him there (or even close to there) … but we do believe the ferocity of the battle between Templeton and Warren has resulted in McMaster climbing back up to the 40 percent mark.

That isn’t because McMaster is attracting voters, though, it is due to the fact they will likely refrain from voting.

“No one is gravitating toward him,” a GOP pollster unaffiliated with any of the candidates told us.  “He is not ‘surging,’ he is benefitting from people opting at the very tail end of this race not to support one of his opponents.  Remember, a voter who stays home is a voter who helps Henry McMaster.”

Assuming he remains at or above the forty percent level, McMaster would enter a runoff election in a much stronger position than previously anticipated.

That could mean a larger infusion of cash into his coffers … as well as the likelihood of him receiving more prominent support from U.S. president Donald Trump.

Stay tuned …

Democrats have been hoping against hope that McMaster would survive the “Republican” primary … will they get their wish?

***

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