On Saturday (January 28), the former president will travel to the State Capitol in Columbia, South Carolina, where he will hold his first official rally of the 2024 presidential campaign. According to RealClearPolitics, Trump holds a 15.6-point lead over second-place Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in a compilation of 2024 GOP presidential preference polls.
In his two previous presidential campaigns Trump won the Palmetto State, defeating Hillary Clinton by 14 points (2016) and Joe Biden by 12 points (2020). Dr. Charles Dunn, professor emeritus of government at Clemson University, views South Carolina as a "must-win" state for Trump.
"If he can't win – and win big – this will test his early viability of where he might be able to win elsewhere," Dunn tells AFN. According to the current schedule, South Carolina's GOP presidential primary would be the third on the calendar for the 2024 campaign.
"So, I put high stakes on this; it's a must-win state for him," he continues. "If he can't win here, where can he win? [But] the odds are very favorable for him in South Carolina."
But as Dunn points out, two other South Carolinians are showing up in the national polls, albeit with small numbers.
"Nikki Haley, former [South Carolina] governor and U.N. ambassador, and junior Senator [Tim] Scott … two candidates with some considerable potential to become viable," he argues. "So, when we say that this is a must-win state [for Trump], he has to make sure also that he wins big against Haley and Scott."
But if Haley and Scott eventually "emerge" in the contest, says Dunn, "that could present a problem for Donald Trump." Neither, however – like DeSantis – has officially announced their candidacy for the Republican nomination; and both trail far behind the Florida governor in the RCP compilation.