Local voters pick Trump

COUNTY — Billionaire businessman Donald Trump continued his march toward the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nomination continued in the Palmetto State on Saturday, and Pickens County voters were a microcosm of the state, picking the frontrunner as their choice to represent the party in this year’s race for president.

[cointent_lockedcontent] In a six-man race, Trump garnered nearly a third of all ballots cast statewide in the GOP primary, with 239,851 (32.5 percent), well ahead of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who finished in a dead heat for second with 165,881 votes (22.5 percent) and 164,790 (22.3 percent), respectively. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush dropped out of the race after a disappointingly distant fourth-place showing, earning just 57,863 votes (7.8 percent), while Ohio Gov. John Kasich (56,206 votes, 7.6 percent) and Dr. Ben Carson (53,326 votes, 7.2 percent) brought up the rear.

In Pickens County the race was tighter between Trump and second-place finisher Cruz, with 30.13 percent of voters (7,136) picking Trump and 26.99 percent (6,393) casting their ballots for Cruz. Rubio finished third with 20.95 percent of the vote (4,961), followed by Bush’s 8.58 percent (2,033), Carson’s 7.24 percent (1,714) and Kasich’s 6.11 percent (1,448).

A little more than 36 percent of the county’s 65,599 registered voters made their way to the polls for Saturday’s primary, a much higher rate than the 25 percent of voters statewide who cast their ballots.

With the win in South Carolina, Trump won two of the first three states to go to the polls. After Cruz won in the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1, Trump took first place in New Hampshire on Feb. 9. No Republican candidate who has won two of the first three states has ever fallen short of the party’s presidential nomination.

Nevada’s Republican voters held their caucus on Tuesday, with results unavailable at press time, while a dozen more states will go to the polls next Tuesday.