“It’s a testament to how red South Carolina is as a state,” said former Republican Gov. Mark Sanford. “It’s a testament to people being squeezed into lower socioeconomic levels…and wanting something different.”

And Haley, he said, “probably didn’t care that the house fire was as full as it should be.”

Here are six things South Carolina told us about the primary as Michigan heads into Super Tuesday and beyond.

It’s hard to find a Republican demographic that doesn’t love Trump

If further evidence of Trump’s dominance over the Republican Party is really needed, well, South Carolina had it in abundance.

Most people of all ages chose Trump over Haley. Both men and women supported Trump. Voters of all income ranges backed him, and he only narrowly lost among college graduates, while he dominated among those without a college degree.

Trump has a weak point. It’s Republican primary voters who believe President Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 election, which he did, or who think Trump would be unfit for the presidency if he were convicted of a crime. A large majority of those voters were with Haley. Their problem is that on both questions they represented just over a third of the total electorate.

But that’s not where most of the Republican Party is today. From top to bottom, the Republican Party is Trump’s party. There are no reliable pockets of dissent.

New Hampshire’s more upwardly mobile and better-educated demographic gave Haley a false sense of natural light. In South Carolina, among older, whiter and more religious voters, she was back on the ground.

A big warning sign for Trump

Behind every silver lining, there has been a cloud for Trump during the GOP primaries, and otherwise sunny South Carolina was no exception. With about three-quarters of the votes expected, about 40 percent of voters rejected Trump.

That number in itself is not a problem in a primary. But it includes some serious cause for concern in a general election. Trump lost moderate and liberal voters to Haley by a wide margin, according to exit polls. And, according to AP VoteCast, just over 1 in 5 GOP primary voters said they would not vote for Trump in November if he were the party’s nominee.

Perhaps the clearest example of this dynamic occurred in the city of Charleston, where Haley won more than 80 percent of the vote in some precincts.

Haley saw the weaker side of Trump and highlighted it in her comments, telling her followers that he “drives people away.”

“I’m an accountant. I know that 40 percent is not 50 percent,” Haley said Saturday night. “But I also know that 40 percent is not a small group. There are a large number of voters in our Republican primaries who “They say they want an alternative.”

The polls were right (mostly)

Trump’s victory by more than 20 points was roughly in line with pre-election polls. RealClearPolitics’ final average put him at 61 percent to Haley’s 38 percent, close to where he will end the vote count, although some polls showed a larger lead for Trump.

Note that this isn’t just for scorekeeping: Since 2016, pollsters have struggled to measure Trump’s support accurately, and Trump’s strong showing in general election polls has raised questions about whether they got it right, corrected in excess or some of its points are still missing. supporters.

Primary polls are not necessarily indicative of the general election, but so far pollsters have mostly gotten it right. The final Iowa poll was spot on. Haley performed slightly better in New Hampshire thanks to a surge of independent voters that pollsters overlooked. And South Carolina was somewhere in between.

The real dividing line in Southern elections is race

The Palmetto State primaries highlighted the most determining factor in Southern elections: how racially polarized the region’s voters remain.

Consider tonight’s Republican primary: Exit polls showed that 92 percent of the electorate was white, in a state where people of color make up more than a third of the population.

By contrast, black voters historically make up about two-thirds of the electorate in South Carolina’s Democratic primaries.

We still don’t have a perfect comparison with the Democratic primaries from earlier this month (they were so uncompetitive that the media didn’t conduct exit polls), but as a measure, about 60 percent of those who submitted Democratic votes in absence in the state were Black.

None of this is surprising. There’s a reason Biden targeted Black voters in South Carolina: both in his 2020 victory that propelled him to the nomination and also earlier this month as a stress test in the early general election.

But it is a sign that a major political rift continues to persist.

And the ability to use race as a proxy for partisanship (and vice versa) has significant implications later in the vote, when political mapmakers are drawing state, local, and congressional legislative boundaries.

Federal civil rights law makes it illegal to discriminate against minority voters when drawing political lines, but it does not make it illegal to discriminate against voters. democrats. But how can you untangle that when the two are effectively interchangeable?

The Supreme Court is now considering a case on that very question, based on congressional lines in South Carolina, which just demonstrated how racially polarized its electorate is.

A decision is expected imminently.

Trump has fully captured the white evangelical vote

South Carolina, where 22 percent of all religiously affiliated identify as white evangelicals, is the ultimate testing ground for a candidate’s strength among this key voting bloc. It’s a better barometer even than Iowa, which is just 18 percent white evangelicals.

And on Saturday, Trump cleaned up with them, winning about three-quarters of white born-again or evangelical Christians, according to exit polls. This, despite facing trial next month on charges arising from hush money payments to a porn star. Sanford, who faced a beating from the South Carolina faithful in 2009 after his own affair, expressed surprise at how Trump seems to have these voters in the palm of his hands.

“The same people who, once again, legitimately poured acid on my head in 2009 — I mean, they were right, some of these conversations were just scathing — are the same people who are proposing Trump,” Sanford said. “My head is spinning. Are you kidding me? You were torturing me not too many years ago. And now you’re making excuses for this guy here? I don’t understand.”

At least things can’t get much worse for Haley.

Haley just lost her home state by double digits. She has yet to win a nomination contest. And Trump is on track to secure the nod from the Republican Party in mid-March.

The only bright spot in all of that for Haley: She now heads to Michigan and Super Tuesday facing such low expectations that she actually has a chance to outperform, even if she still loses. She set in motion that twist in her concession speech, when she characterized her vote share of about 40 percent as “not 50 percent,” but also not “a small group.”

Haley’s campaign is pinning its hopes on Super Tuesday, where 11 of the 16 races are open or semi-open primaries. Her team aims to recreate the coalition that put her within a dozen percentage points of Trump in New Hampshire, and build on it.

But even in Super Tuesday states with a history of nominating moderate Republicans in primaries, such as Massachusetts and Vermont, polls show Trump beating Haley.

Campaigns don’t end when they run out of money, and Haley has plenty of that.

While stating that the results “in no way diminish the accomplishments – and personal popularity – of a transformative governor like Nikki Haley,” Rob Godfrey, Haley’s former deputy chief of staff as governor, who remains neutral in the primary, said: “Tonight’s results recognize Donald Trump’s broad, deep and potentially unsurpassed support among Republicans.”

By Sam