South Carolina Republicans have long taken pride in the fact that the state’s first-in-the-South primary has attracted a great deal of national political attention, and indeed, Palmetto State GOP voters have had an uncanny knack for picking the eventual party candidate. So it gives the state a great deal of clout among Republican candidates who want to gain momentum as they head into the election season’s final year. As we’ve noted before, we aren’t keen on the fact that candidates for the White House announce soon after a president has been chosen, setting up what is essentially a permanent presidential campaign. Voters get little slack from the constant spin that’s thrown their way.
The state intends to hold its primary Jan. 21, 2012, nearly a full year before the presidential election will be held. Florida had earlier announced its intention to hold a primary in late January, so South Carolina Republican leaders obviously didn’t want to lose their place at the head of the line. We have no great argument with that other than the fact that the political landscape changes quickly, and in this day of instant communication, it’s certainly not unreasonable to think that a late-blooming candidate in a mediocre, unexciting field (does that remind anyone of the situation we’re looking at now?) could emerge in the months between January and December? Yes, it’s a long shot, but a possibility.
The good part is that South Carolina does indeed land in the spotlight as a result of its early primary. Major candidates are quick to visit the state, and voters here get a chance to examine them, though in these days the examination is generally electronic rather than through old-fashioned stump meetings and handshakes. In any event, the Palmetto State will apparently retain its “first-in-line” place, and that’s good for the state.