The Daily Gamecock

Student Republicans differ on preferred presidential candidate as GOP primary approaches

The South Carolina Republican primary is Feb. 24, and USC's student Republican groups have differing hopes for the results.

South Carolina is the first primary of the southern states. Because of this, the state can play a role in predicting how surrounding states vote. 

“South Carolina ... historically has been the first primary with a diverse population. It historically has done very, very well in selecting the person that ultimately goes on to win the presidency, both in the Democratic and Republican primaries,” Kirk Randazzo, the chair of USC's political science department said. “In fact, there's only a handful of times where South Carolina has gotten it wrong.” 

Being the first state in its region to vote makes South Carolina an important target for candidates during their campaigns. 

"I think it allows politicians to place a little bit more emphasis and focus on the needs and interests of South Carolinians than we'd otherwise get if our primary happened after Super Tuesday,” Randazzo said. 

Donald Trump and Nikki Haley are the two remaining candidates in this year's Republican primary. Haley has garnered some support from students in her home state. Students For Haley is an on-campus organization that volunteers at campaigns and promotes Haley to other students.

A lot of her values are similar with mine on many of the subjects," Ross White, the president of Students For Haley, said. "I feel like that’s what everyone should find in a political leader or someone that they want to support. It's just someone who checks those boxes ... representing what you want to see in the country.”

Although Haley has lost to Trump in the primaries so far, including a loss to the "none of these candidates" option in Nevada, some members of Students for Haley still have hope that she will prevail. 

“I definitely think it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” White said. “I’m optimistic of course, I mean, I will always support her no matter, whatever the outcome is, because I just believe that’s who should be the president.” 

Though some might view Haley only as an alternative to Trump, White said he views her as a good option regardless of her opponents.  

“She isn't just Trump's opposition. She is her own entity, and she has her own ideas about leading this country forward,” White said. “It's not like she's just second. She's a good option, no matter if Trump was in the equation or not.” 

USC College Republicans formally announced its support for Trump in the primaries. The group waited to publicly endorse a candidate until others dropped out. 

Vice President of USC College Republicans Noah Lindler said the group encompasses a variety of viewpoints found in the Republican party today since members of the group favor different candidates.

"I do think it's a pretty big representation of the young conservative movement in general. People were not quite sure who they wanted, but they knew we needed a strong conservative in office. And as it's narrowed down ... a lot more people have either become Trump or Haley," Lindler said.


Although a home state advantage may help Haley in a typical election, Trump’s popularity could prevent her from winning in South Carolina. 

"Serving as a former governor should have meant that Nikki Haley would be the slam dunk winner in South Carolina. I just don't think that's going to be the case this time,” Randazzo said. “I think Donald Trump has such a tremendous influence over the Republican Party that he is going to win South Carolina, easily by double digits.” 

Early voting for the South Carolina Republican primary is Feb. 12 - Feb. 22. More information on which precinct to vote in can be found at


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