6 things to watch in today's South Carolina, Nevada elections


Republicans in South Carolina vote Saturday and Democrats will head to the polls in Nevada. The two states are very different, but will play a role in both party primaries. Here's 6 things you need to know about Saturday's elections

Does another big win for Trump solidify his front-runner status?

This week in South Carolina Donald Trump called Pope Francis "disgraceful" and blamed former President George W. Bush for 9/11, and it doesn't look like it's hurting him in the polls at all.

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Most polls show him with a 12-17 point lead in South Carolina. Trump won New Hampshire with 35 percent of the vote.

For Trump to win South Carolina big, despite not getting any of the major endorsements from the governor or the state's two U.S. senators, sends a message to the establishment that he can win across the south heading into Super Tuesday on March 1.

If Cruz or even Rubio are able to upset Trump in South Carolina, it would be a major blow to the Trump campaign and give the winner a boost heading toward the southern Super Tuesday states.

The fight on the Republican side is for second place

Most polls show the fight for second place in South Carolina is a jumbled mess, much like they did in New Hampshire. However, in South Carolina the fight appears to be between Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

The latest Real Clear Politics average of South Carolina polls has Cruz at 18.3 percent and Rubio at 17.6 percent. A second place win for Cruz is expected. He's an evangelical southerner and should play well in South Carolina.

Coming in third would be a loss for him. If Rubio comes in second, it will give him back some of the mojo he lost after his fourth place finish in New Hampshire.

A third place win is also good for Rubio, while it won't help him against Cruz, it will put him above former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the fight to be the establishment candidate.

Watching Rubio campaign this week with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, you couldn't help but think that's a strong general election ticket for Republicans.

Does Sin City finally give Clinton a solid victory?

For years, Hillary Clinton has been called the front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2016. Well, she won Iowa by a hair and lost huge to Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire.

Clinton could use a solid win in Nevada to boost her campaign. The polls show a tight race in Nevada. the latest CNN poll has Clinton at 48 and Sanders at 47. In 2008, Clinton won Nevada over Barack Obama, 51-45 percent. Losing a state that she won before would be a blow.

Nevada is also the first state voting with a large Latino population. She is campaigning hard for those votes.

Her latest TV ad is directed right at Latino voters.

Can Sanders win in a diverse state?

The Democratic electorate in Nevada is only 65 percent white, making it a much more diverse state than Iowa or New Hampshire. Sanders had success in Iowa and New Hampshire, both states without a very diverse population.

Sanders has done well with young voters, but getting traction with black and Latino voters will be key as the primaries change to southern and western states and show he can win the Democratic base. Twenty-seven percent of Nevada's population is Latino.

One thing to keep an eye on is age. If Sanders can win young voters in the state regardless of their background it will give him more momentum to keep going.

Kasich is going on regardless ... but

For Kasich, anything above last place in some ways is a win in South Carolina. If he manages to defeat Bush here, it would be significant and potentially a fatal blow to the Bush campaign. Kasich knows his politics may not play well in the South and he's looking ahead to New England states on March 1 and the Michigan primary on March 8

The last stand for Bush, Carson

Depending on which polls you look at the numbers don't look good for Jeb Bush and Ben Carson in South Carolina. In recent polls, the best Bush has done is 14 percent, however in some he is as low as 7. For Carson, he's in single digits.

Even if Carson comes in last, he will probably keep going just because he can. However, for Bush another 4th place or lower finish is a blow to his former front-runner status. His brother, former President George W. Bush even came to campaign for Jeb in South Carolina. Bush needs a bump, a 3rd place finish or higher would give his campaign a boost and be his highest finish so far.

 


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