Trump holds off Rubio in Beaufort County

Update Stamp

Posted: February 20, 2016 – 11:00am

Bluffton TodayBy SCOTT THOMPSON
843-815-0800, Ext. 13 scott.thompson@blufftontoday.com

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump won a sweeping victory in South Carolina’s GOP primary on Saturday, but the results were a little closer in Beaufort County.

According to results from the S.C. State Elections Commission, Trump beat Florida Sen. Marco Rubio here by 786 votes (30 percent to 28).

Rubio, who hoped to capitalize on recent endorsements from Sen. Tim Scott and Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, posted one of his stronger finishes in Beaufort County. But though he squeaked out a second-place finish over Sen. Ted Cruz, Rubio carried only two counties — Richland and Charleston — while Trump won the other 44.

Taking advantage of a large population of former Ohio residents, Ohio Gov. John Kasich finished third in Beaufort County with 19 percent of the vote, far surpassing his statewide performance where he came in under 8 percent.

Cruz finished fourth in Beaufort County (13 percent), followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (7 percent), who dropped out of the race Saturday night after a fourth-place finish in the Palmetto State. Ben Carson rounded out the field in Beaufort County with 3 percent).

Record turnout

State election officials on Saturday night reported record turnout for the Republican primary. With 41 of 46 counties completely reported shortly before 11 p.m., 711,578 ballots had been counted, far greater than the 605,623 cast in 2012.

Beaufort County also saw an increase from 27,413 in 2012 to 33,211 this year.

“It’s just another demonstration of the intensity and the angst that people are feeling,” Beaufort County Republican Party chairman Jim Riordan said Saturday night during a results watch party at Southern Barrel Brewing Co. in Bluffton. “People are showing up to the polls, and that’s a good thing. That’s what we want.

“There is a multiplicity of issues in our country right now. We have international problems. We have domestic problems. All these problems are coming to a head right now, and that contributes to the anxiety people are feeling.”

The primary marked the end of months of campaigning by a GOP field that originally had 17 candidates, but was down to five after Bush’s departure.

Eleven of those candidates made visits to Beaufort County over the last 15 months, combining for 26 total stops.

The intensity picked up in the last two weeks, as Rubio, Kasich, Trump and Bush made multiple visits between Bluffton, Sun City, Beaufort and Hilton Head Island, and Cruz spoke at a Port Royal church.

Seeing the candidates face to face likely made a difference in turnout numbers, Riordan said.

“I saw all of them, and absolutely, it helped,” he said. “It shows that the Lowcountry and Beaufort County are important to the Republican Party. There are a lot of Republican voters here. The crowds were big even in the earlier candidate events, and they just got bigger and bigger.”

Bluffton resident Donna Barrett said she also saw all of the candidates who recently visited, and the face-to-face experience helped with her selection of Rubio.

“It was a tough decision, but I committed to him after a lot of soul searching,” Barrett said of Rubio. “I’m looking for a statesman with a lot of decorum, and he is someone with integrity and strong convictions. I think we would reap the benefits of a renewed America with him as president.”

Barrett said she was less impressed with Trump.

“I just don’t feel in my heart he’s totally committed to conservatism,” Barrett said. “I don’t believe he has the depth we need in a president. I’m sure he’s a good man, but from hearing him speak, something is missing.”

Bluffton resident Cheryl Fletcher agreed conservative values were important to her. Though she went into the voting booth on Saturday undecided, she ultimately picked Cruz.

“I was kind of back and forth because we have so many strong candidates running,” Fletcher said. “But I went with who I thought was the most conservative. I’m greatly concerned about the need to rebuild our military, make our country strong again and other things.

“Whoever the nominee is, I will support them.”

S.C. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCE PRIMARY
BEAUFORT COUNTY RESULTS

Donald Trump — 9,912 (30.1 percent)

Marco Rubio — 9,126 (27.7 percent)

John Kasich — 6,245 (18.9 percent)

Ted Cruz — 4,407 (13.4 percent)

Jeb Bush — 2,185 (6.6 percent)

Ben Carson — 1,095 (3.3 percent)

Source

Paid for and authorized by the Beaufort County Republican Party.

Not Authorized by any Candidate or Candidate's Committee.