Donald Trump rolled to a win in South Carolina’s Republican primary on Saturday as voters seething about Washington and politicians lifted the billionaire businessman to his second straight victory in the presidential race.
The two freshmen senators – Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida – were battling for second place, which would give them bragging rights but might not get them any delegates in the march to the nomination.
The outcome could also have serious implications for more establishment-friendly candidates who are hoping for strong finishes to stave off questions about their viability.
Exit polls showed 4 in 10 voters angry about how Washington is working, and more than half saying they felt betrayed by politicians in the Republican Party.
“I don’t like politicians,” said Jim Jaruszewicz, a 37-year-old radiology technician who voted for Trump. “I don’t trust politicians.”
The survey also found that three-quarters of voters supported a temporary ban on Muslims who are not U.S. citizens from entering the country, one of Trump’s policies.
Trump appeared confident as he’s traveled the state this week, holding rallies and town halls that have drawn thousands.
“I actually think I know your state now better than you do. I have been all over the place for the last four days. I know every blade of grass I’ve flown over from here to there,” he told a rally crowd in Sumter as he implored his supporters to get out and vote.
While the billionaire businessman scored a decisive win in New Hampshire, his second-place finish in Iowa to Cruz illustrated gaps in his less-than-robust ground operation, and questions remain about the extent to which he can translate leads in preference polls and large rally crowds into votes.
Trump’s win could answer some of those questions, adding momentum going into the collection of Southern states that will vote March 1, giving him the chance to build an even bigger lead in the delegate count that will determine the nomination.
The election followed days of hostility between the campaigns and their allies at events and in television ads, automatic calls and mailers that have been flooding voters’ mailboxes.
Trump added to the drama, spending the week threatening to sue Cruz, accusing former President George W. Bush of lying and sparring with Pope Francis over immigration.
At his final election-eve rally Friday night in North Charleston, Trump told the widely discredited story of Gen. John Pershing, who was said to have halted Muslim attacks in the Philippines in the early 1900s by shooting the rebels with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood.
The outcome will also have high stakes for Trump’s rivals, who are hoping to halt his momentum and establish themselves as the best-positioned alternatives to his unorthodox candidacy. Cruz and Rubio were battling for second place.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s finish below the top three could raise serious new questions about his campaign and increase pressure on him to drop out. Bush has deep family ties in the state and campaigned alongside his mother, the former first lady, and his brother, former President George W. Bush.
The exit polling of voters was conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks by Edison Research.
A replay of the day’s dispatches follows:
Donald Trump has won a majority of the delegates in the South Carolina primary – and he has a chance to take them all.
Trump will win at least 38 of the 50 delegates at stake.
South Carolina Republicans award delegates for being the statewide winner as well as for winning individual congressional districts.
More votes are needed in individual congressional districts to award the final 12 delegates.
Trump leads the overall race for delegates with 55. Ted Cruz has 11 delegates, Marco Rubio has 10, John Kasich has five, Jeb Bush has 4 and Ben Carson has three.
It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.
Donald Trump’s supporters erupted into cheers as they learned their candidate had won South Carolina’s GOP primary.
Supporters gave each other high-fives and held Trump signs high above their heads as they celebrated. Some chanted “USA! USA!”
Hundreds of people are gathered in a ballroom at the Spartanburg Marriott for Trump’s watch party, where they’re snacking on cubed cheese and crudité, and sipping beers from plastic cups.
Trump is expected to deliver a victory speech later tonight.
Donald Trump has won the South Carolina Republican primary, a second-straight victory for the billionaire real estate mogul after his first-place finish in New Hampshire.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are in close race for second.
Exit polls taken in South Carolina found that about three-quarters of Republican voters support a temporary ban on Muslims who are not American citizens from entering the United States. That’s one of Trump’s signature proposals.
A majority of voters looking for an outsider candidate supported Trump, providing a boost to the first-time candidate for office.
Nevada’s Democratic party’s initial estimates are showing that 80,000 Democrats caucused on Saturday, about 10,000 more than most party insiders expected.
Still, it was well below the nearly 120,000 who showed up in 2008 for Hillary Clinton’s contest against Barack Obama.
Clinton beat rival Bernie Sanders in the state’s Democratic caucuses Saturday, earning her a second win in the nomination process.
With her husband, former President Bill Clinton, standing by her side, Hillary Clinton has told her supporters that “we’re in this together.”
“This is your campaign and it is a campaign to break down every barrier that holds you back,” she said. “We’re going to build ladders of opportunity in their place so every American can go as far as your hard work can take you.”
Though she never mentioned Sanders by name, Clinton cast her rival as offering a narrow economic message that wouldn’t tackle the full range of problems facing the country. Rattling off promises to lower student debt, reform the immigration system, combat systemic racism and improve education, Clinton promised a country of new opportunities.
“There’s so much more to be done,” she said. “The truth is we aren’t a single issue country. We need more than a plan for the big banks.”
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders says “the wind is at our backs” despite his loss to Hillary Clinton in the Nevada caucuses.
Sanders says Clinton ran a very aggressive and effective campaign in Nevada that led to her victory in the Democratic caucuses Saturday.
He congratulated her for her victory and praised her effort.
But Sanders is suggesting he beat expectations because he started far behind Clinton and gained significant ground.
Sanders said he’s heading now to South Carolina and that he has an “excellent chance” to win many of the states voting on Super Tuesday.
Sanders said the election will result in one of the greatest political upsets in U.S. history.
Hillary Clinton says Americans are “right to be angry,” but also hungry for what she calls “real solutions.”
Clinton is using her victory speech after the Nevada caucuses to draw contrasts with Bernie Sanders. She says the truth is that the U.S. isn’t a single-issue country. Clinton spent much of the run-up to the Nevada caucuses portraying Sanders as singularly focused on economic issues.
Clinton says many doubted her in Nevada but that she and her supporters never doubted each other. She says to Nevadans: “This one is for you.”
About four in 10 South Carolina Republican primary voters say that an important quality in a candidate is that they “shares my values.”
A poll conducted by voters in Saturday’s primary showed that being an instrument of change and electability in November are also important qualities.
The voters are split on whether the next president should be an outsider or a member of the political establishment. Nearly half said they prefer someone who has experience in politics and about the same numbers would rather see someone from outside the political establishment.
Four in 10 voters see the campaign of Donald Trump as most unfair, and a third said that of Texas Sen. Cruz’s campaign. Less than 10 percent selected Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio or John Kasich.
The survey was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research with voters leaving 35 randomly selected precincts throughout South Carolina.
For South Carolina Republican primary voters, terrorism is the top issue that mattered – selected by about a third.
The economy and government spending were each picked by nearly three in 10. Even so, three-quarters of the voters said they were very worried about the direction of the nation’s economy, and more than 4 in 10 said billionaire Donald Trump would be best at handling the economy.
However, Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz are both seen as candidates who would best handle an international crisis by about a quarter of voters.
Only about 10 percent selected immigration as the most important issue. Asked specifically what should be done with illegal immigrants working in the United States, the voters were evenly divided. Republican voters were far less divided on the issue of allowing Muslims into the country. About three-quarters support a temporary ban on Muslims who are not American citizens from entering the United States.
The survey was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research with voters leaving 35 randomly selected precincts throughout South Carolina.
John Kasich says if he spent the day in South Carolina he’d be doing nothing more than yelling at people on their way into the polls saying “Hey, vote for me.”
With that in mind, he’s campaigning in Massachusetts and Vermont instead. The two states hold primaries on March 1.
“If somebody yelled at me as I was going to the polls, I’d vote against them,” he joked with reporters after a town hall in Worcester, Massachusetts.
He says he wishes he could have spent more time in South Carolina, but that he and his team “did everything we could do.”
Bernie Sanders is conceding the race in Nevada in a phone call with Hillary Clinton.
The Vermont senators said in a statement Saturday that he congratulated Clinton on her victory. He says he’s proud of his campaign and expects to leave Nevada with a “solid share of the delegates.”
Sanders is touting his campaign’s work to bring working people and young voters into the process. He says he believes his campaign has “the wind at ours backs” heading to the Super Tuesday contests.
Sanders is thanking Nevadans for their support.
Hillary Clinton’s aides cast her victory in Nevada’s Democratic caucuses as a sign that her new focus on increasing opportunities for minorities and poorer Americas – what her team calls her “breaking barriers” agenda – was resonating.
As the race has turned to primary contests in states with more diverse Democratic electorates, Clinton has increasingly decried the issue of “systemic racism” and highlighted her plans to combat the problem.
She started the week with a policy address in Harlem focused squarely on issues impacting the African-American community. In Nevada, she’s worked to woo Latino voters with promises to tackle immigration reform in the first 100 days of her administration, should she win the White House.
Hillary Clinton’s win in Nevada means she will pick up most of the state’s delegates.
With 35 at stake, Clinton will gain at least 18. Sanders will pick up at least 14. Three delegates remain to be allocated, based on votes in the congressional districts.
The results of the caucus are the first step in determining delegates who are expected to support candidates at the national convention.
To date, Clinton remains far ahead in the overall delegate count due to early endorsements from superdelegates, or party leaders who can support the candidate of their choice, no matter whom voters back in primaries and caucuses.
Including superdelegates, Clinton now has at least 501 delegates and Sanders at least 69.
It takes 2,383 delegates to win the nomination.
As a small gathering of Nevada supporters waited for her appearance in a Caesar’s Palace ballroom, Hillary Clinton took to Twitter to say thanks.
“To everyone who turned out in every corner of Nevada with determination and heart: This is your win,” she wrote.
Back at her Brooklyn headquarters, aides cheered as she was announced the winner. Her campaign manager, Robby Mook, ran her 2008 effort in the state, giving the contest special significance for some of the staff.
Hillary Clinton has won the Nevada Democratic caucuses, rebounding after a second-place finish to Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire.
The victory for the former secretary of state over the Vermont senator gives her two wins to one in the race for the Democratic nomination.
Clinton eked out a win in the Iowa caucuses before Sanders posted an overwhelming victory in New Hampshire’s primary.
Surveys of caucus-goers taken as they entered caucus sites showed that older women turned out in force to support Clinton, pushing her to victory despite her continued struggles to attract young women.
The competition heads next to South Carolina, which holds its Democratic primary next Saturday.
Lexington County precincts have been “steady but not slammed” with voters,” said Dean Crepes, the county’s director of Registration and Elections.
Crepes said those precincts have had no major hiccups today but that the county’s voter turnout might be lower than he expected early this morning.
Crepes said he expects turnout to be about 30 percent, down from the 40 percent he predicted initially.
Some Anderson County residents are waiting for more than an hour to cast votes in the S.C. Republican primary, the Anderson Independent-Mail reports.
Some voters told the newspaper they had to wait in line an hour and 45 minutes to vote at McCants Middle School in Anderson, where they said only one voting machine was working for a long period Saturday.
Katy Smith, Anderson County's elections director, reportedly said turnout was higher at some precincts that it had been in previous presidential primaries and that she had trouble recruiting poll workers.
Voter turnout in Richland County is “substantially higher than 2012,” but hasn’t caused the problems that plagued the county four years ago, according to county Election Commission Director Sam Selph.
Absentee turnout is three times higher than it was in 2012, Selph said.
There were minor hiccups early in the day, most before the precincts opened, he said, but nothing like the long lines and vote-counting delays of the 2012 election.
“Things are going very well here in Richland County,” Selph said.
The Election Commission’s call center has had an uneventful day, with “virtually no” calls coming in, he said.
“That means voters are going to the polls and voting and leaving,” Selph said. “That’s a very good thing.”
Real estate mogul Donald Trump was the consistent favorite in preference polls from the S.C. GOP primary, the Associated Press reports.
Ted Cruz of Texas hovered in second with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in third.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson were trailing them.
With a few hours left before polls close today, voters can find their polling locations here.
In Red Bank, Dawn Hoover, a 40-year-old construction office manager, said she voted for real estate mogul Donald Trump because America could benefit from having a businessman in the White House.
“We need more of a business person with a business mind,” Hoover said. “I don’t agree with everything he says or does, but I don’t agree with any of the others.”
Josh Johnson, an unemployed 29-year-old, said he voted for Ben Carson because he likes the retired neurosurgeon’s demeanor.
“He seems to be well-spoken, he seems to be more humble about his approach to things,” Johnson said. “He’s obviously a smart guy, too.”
Voter turnout across South Carolina has been strong and steady, just as it is in Richland and Lexington counties, according to South Carolina Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire.
But Whitmire said it still is a bit too early to speculate whether voters will break the S.C. GOP primary record of 603,770 ballots cast in 2012.
One important sign is that as of early Saturday afternoon, 58,464 absentee ballots had already been cast in the GOP contest, Whitmire said. That alone shatters the previous state record of 35,595 absentee ballots, including both the Democratic and Republican primaries, in 2008.
The total number of absentee ballots returned so far is 77,288, more than double the previous record, Whitemire said.
“The absentee turnout is certainly indicative of high excitement and voter interest,” Whitmire said. “There’s been nothing today to indicate otherwise, as far as what we’ve heard from the polls. I wouldn’t be surprised if we set a record turnout for a Republican presidential primary.”
Few problems have accompanied the voter turnout, Whitmire said. One notable hiccup with polling machines in Florence County forced voters to cast paper ballots until the machines were back up and running.
But for the most part, it has been smooth sailing, Whitmire said.
“It’s eerily quiet here right now,” he said. “We’ve heard about some lines in some places, but nothing out of the ordinary.”
In Red Bank, Midlands Tech student and first-time voter Zach Zeagler said he cast his ballot for Donald Trump because of Trump’s success as a businessman and his ideas for immigration reform.
“I support the wall,” Zeagler said. “I support that he’s going to put a tax on big companies ... moving out of the United States. I like his business history. He starts his own businesses, and he’s successful when he does.”
First-time voter Megan Baker said she was as motivated to vote against Donald Trump as she was to vote for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
“First of all, most of all, I just didn’t want Donald Trump to win,” Baker, 19, said. “Otherwise, (Carson) is a really smart person.”
The British ambassador to the United States visited Columbia on Saturday to get a first-hand look at the South Carolina Republican presidental primary.
Sir Kim Darroch, a former national security adviser to British Prime Minister David Cameron, started his new post in January.
Darroch is meeting with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Seneca Republican who ran for president, and South Carolina Republican party chairman Matt Moore.
He also will visit a couple of candidate campaign headquarters in Columbia as voters cast their ballots through 7 p.m.
No surprise, Darroch is interested in the success and future prospects of GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, a New York real estate developer who was never held political office.
Voting turnout is strong and steady in Greenville County, according to Conway Belangia, director of the county’s Voter Registration and Election office.
“If it continues like this, it’ll be good number,” Belangia said.
But he wouldn’t speculate as to whether turnout would break the record for GOP primary in South Carolina, as many expected. Belangia said he won’t have a better handle on those numbers until later today.
Belangia said some lines in Greenville County precincts include up to 55 people, but that those lines are moving quickly. Precincts had no troubles opening but have had a few technical issues, none of which have kept anyone from voting, he said.
Eileen Pikus, a 56-year-old homemaker from Lexington, voted today at Lexington Middle School.
Pikus said she voted for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, because, “I think he’s a strong, Christian man.”
Another Lexington Middle School voter, 43-year old Allison Mathias, said she picked Ben Carson because she believes he is a unifier.
“I think he is a peacemaker,” said Mathias, a stay-at-home mother, “and maybe he can bring our country together.”
Lynn Conley, a 69-year-old retiree who voted at the school, said he was drawn to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s immigration and economic policies.
“I think he’ll do a good job on the border and get the economy straightened out,” Conley said. “I think he may even be able to deal with Putin.”
John Bane and Celia Bane, both 63, voted together at Dreher High School this morning. Both said they picked Ted Cruz.
“Right up to the end I was divided between Cruz and Rubio,” John Bane said. “In the end I felt like Cruz was stronger and more experienced on a couple issues that are important to me – national defense and the 2nd Amendment.”
Charleston County Board of Elections Director Joe Debney said voting is “going really well” in Charleston this morning.
Charleston County precincts that typically vote for Republicans have had “a good, steady turnout,” Debney said, though he would not speculate as to whether the turnout could be record-breaking. Debney said he would have a better idea of the turnout later this afternoon.
“The reports that I’ve heard is that it’s steady, there are no lines, and people are getting in and out quickly,” Debney said.
The State Election Commission is reminding voters to bring one of five forms of photo identification: an S.C. drivers license, DMV ID, photo voter registration card, federal military ID or U.S. passport.
Voters who forget to bring their photo IDs to the polls still can vote with a provisional ballot, but their vote will not count unless they show their photo ID to the county elections office before certification of the election on Thursday, according to a news release from the commission.
Voters who don’t have a photo ID should bring their non-photo voter registration cards with them to the polls. That card would allow them to sign an affidavit explaining why they couldn’t get a photo ID. It would also allow them to vote on a provisional ballot.
That ballot would count unless the affidavit is proven false.
Voters had no problems this morning casting their ballots in Richland County, according to Yonita Simmons, the county Election Commission’s outreach coordinator.
Simmons said precincts this morning had a few hiccups, such as problems with laptops or other equipment. Those were mostly solved before voters arrived, she said.
“All of that is to be expected,” Simmons said. “We’ve had some issues with minor things this morning. It’s the norm for elections.”
A news release from Simmons said Richland County has more than 700 poll workers and 29 polling location technicians in addition to its Election Commission staff “to ensure that this election runs smoothly.”
Simmons said the commission doesn’t yet have a sense of voter turnout. The commission won’t have solid data on that until later Saturday afternoon, she said.
The six-candidate GOP race is expected to produce a record voter turnout statewide on Saturday. As of midday Thursday, about 38,000 absentee ballots had been cast in the GOP contest. That already had passed the 35,595 absentee ballots cast in 2008 — a record total that included both the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries.
Just before 11 a.m., 169 people had voted at the precinct at Dreher High School, with 99 absentee ballots. Those votes account for 18.5 percent of the precinct.
Simmons said the commission has not received any reports of long lines, either from precincts across the county or the voters themselves.
One of those voters was Joe Underwood, 66, an attorney who lives on near Trenholm Road. Underwood said he voted this morning for Ohio Gov. John Kasich at Kilbourne Park Baptist Church.
“I voted to send him out of here into the other states with a high enough percentage to create a lane for sane, rational Republicans,” Underwood said. “I am historically a Democrat. I’ve only crossed over and voted in the Republican Party these two times. Each time it was to try to shape who the candidate would be so I would have a choice between two sane and sensible candidates.”
Another was 52-year-old Bill West, an accountant who lives on MacGregor Drive off Beltline Boulevard. West said he voted for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio because he is “the lesser of three evils.”
“I’m pretty sure Trump is a neo-fascist because that’s the next step past super conservative Republican,” West said. “I think Cruz would create his religious state. Kasich doesn’t have a prayer and I’m not sure unfortunately Bush does either.”
Gov. Nikki Haley is set to cast her vote at 11 a.m. at Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church in Lexington. Haley on Wednesday endorsed U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and has since made stops with him on the campaign trail.
“I want a president who understands they have to go back to Washington, D.C., and bring a conscience back to our Republicans,” Haley, a Lexington Republican, told a crowd of hundreds gathered outside a Chapin warehouse as she announced her endorsement.
Voting so far is going smoothly in Lexington County, save for a “couple of procedural errors” in opening the precincts, according to Dean Crepes, director of Lexington County Commission of Registration and Elections.
Crepes said the problems were minor and were quickly resolved. No voters have had trouble voting thus far, he said.
Crepes said precincts in Lexington County saw a “quick burst” of voters from 7 a.m., when polls opened, to about 7:20.
Now, a steady stream of voters are pouring into those precincts, Crepes said. He estimates turnout this morning is up to 20 percent higher than it was at this time in 2012.
“We’re hopping along real good,” Crepes said.
Crepes said he expects voter turnout could be up to 40 percent today.
GOP presidential hopefuls are gearing up for a busy day ahead as South Carolina residents head to the polls.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is spending the morning in the Upstate, meeting with voters at a voting precinct in Greenville. Bush will then move on to a Daniel Island voting precinct before holding an election night watch party at the Hilton Columbia Center on Senate Street in Columbia.
Ted Cruz of Texas will not be in South Carolina this morning. He instead will fly to Washington for the funeral of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Cruz is scheduled to be at a watch party tonight at the state fairgrounds in Columbia.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich plans to spend most of the day campaigning in Massachusetts. He will attend a watch party in Wakefield, Mass.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is holding a watch party at 6 p.m. at the Carolina Haven tailgating facility in Bluff Road in Columbia. Ben Carson is set to appear at at 7 p.m. party at an Embassy Suites in Greenville, and Donald Trump is scheduled to appear at an 8 p.m. watch party at a Marriott hotel in Spartanburg.
This morning’s weather isn’t likely to drive any voters from the polls, which open now. Forecasts for Columbia today show highs in the high 60s and lows in the low 50s. Clouds are expected, but rain isn’t.
Balloting begins in about two hours. Heavy turnout is expected. If you need last-minute help help finding your polling place or information on the candidates, see out our GOP primary voter guide. Also, we’ll be posting returns on this page later this evening, but don’t wait until then to check it out — we already have tons of state-by-state data and other information.
Staff writers Avery Wilks, Glen Flanagan and Andy Shain from The State contributed to this report.