All of it cements the uncertainty pervading the Republican presidential nominating contest — here and across the country. Much like in Washington, where the abrupt withdrawal from the speaker’s race of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) signaled total party chaos, the view is fading that, eventually, this presidential race will get back to normal.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who recently called South Carolina a “lock,” is at 5.7 percent here, according to the RealClearPolitics average. That’s good enough for only fifth place, 28 points behind frontrunner Donald Trump and 12 behind former neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Four years ago, on his way to losing the state primary, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney never polled lower than 13 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), another establishment favorite who is ahead of Bush nationally and rising in recent polls, is currently even further behind in South Carolina, with a RealClearPolitics average of just 5 percent.
“The pattern of crowning the nominee has been broken,” said Barry Wynn, a former South Carolina GOP chairman whose office is festooned with Bush memorabilia, down to a “I Miss W” coffee mug.
“The voters are a little angrier with establishment Republicans than they have been,” Wynn said. “They’re looking for a different type of candidate.” Of Carson and Trump, he added: “I don’t think that would have happened 10 years ago. I don’t even think it could have happened four years ago.”