Spartanburg, S.C. — The overflow crowd that gathered to cheer the South Carolina GOP primary victory of billionaire Donald Trump at his Spartanburg viewing party booed and jeered every establishment politician who was mentioned or appeared on the televisions tuned to CNN. They booed South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who had endorsed Marco Rubio, as well as Rep. Trey Gowdy and Sen. Tim Scott, both theoretically conservative icons, who also endorsed Rubio.
And the scorn they ladled on Jeb Bush as he dropped out of the race, and the state’s other GOP senator, Lindsey Graham, who endorsed Bush after he himself dropped out, was pure poison.
This is not your father’s Republican Party, or Jeb Bush’s father’s Republican Party either.
What’s different about the Trump campaign starts long before his events begin, in the hourslong lines that no other Republican politician could command. Tickets for Trump’s returns-watching party at the Marriott in Spartanburg, South Carolina said the event started at 8 p.m. But by 6, the to clear security and enter the ballroom snaked around the hotel so much that the jovial, waiting crowd kept getting fooled into thinking the next curve was the last.
Trump led by about 12 percent from the minute real returns started coming in and maintained roughly that margin throughout the night. News organizations called the race within 40 minutes of the polls closing. It was a triumphant win for the crowd, whose signs saying “the silent majority stands with Trump” were among the most popular placards. But this was not a group willing to be silent any longer.
The people in attendance were working-class, but not poor or even middle-class. If they weren’t laborers or spouses of laborers, they had once worked that hard, and now employed people who did.
Denny Childers, 50, said he supports Trump because he’s “sick of all these jobs leaving the country, and I know Trump will stop it.” The owner of a manufacturing company, Childers is an independent who supported Ross Perot in 1992 and is banking on the latest iconoclastic billionaire to make a difference.
Once they had watched Jeb Bush pull out, the crowd started screaming for Trump, and were pretty quickly satisfied. Family in tow, Trump hit the stage and was greeted with chants of “USA USA.” He announced plans for Tuesday’s Nevada caucuses and the upcoming “SEC primary,” the southern half of Super Tuesday, and joked that his daughter Ivanka’s baby might be born in South Carolina, to loud applause.
Trump also scoffed at the idea that Bush leaving the race would cost him the front-runner spot, and argued he’ll get plenty of the votes left behind by anyone who bails out.
That’s what no one knows, as the race moves forward. By bowing out, Bush will avoid being blamed for anointing Trump. John Kasich and Ben Carson will face pressure to do the same. Cruz and Rubio finished in nearly a dead heat for second place.
For now, Trump has won New Hampshire and South Carolina. No one ever has done that and lost the GOP nomination. He barely lost Iowa. And in 10 days, almost a quarter of the party’s delegates will be dispersed from 12 states.
For all intents and purposes, Trump could win this race on Super Tuesday. It might be that one man, or even two, can stop him. But it’s now clear that four men can’t.