Rain has greeted voters in South Carolina on primary day but a political storm has been avoided.
Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney were both slated to make a campaign stop at Tommy's Country Ham House in Greenville at 10:45 this morning but Romney avoided the collision.
The restaurant confirmed to Newsmax that Romney arriived 45 minutes early and was already out the door before Gingrich even arrived.
The restaurant was packed in anticipation of their arriving at the same time.
Aside from the rain, there were some problems with voting machines in one part of the state.
None of the three electronic voting machines at a precinct in Newberry County were working when the polls opened at 7 a.m..
Voters said they were frustrated at having to use a paper ballot, reports The State.
"It's ludicrous that we're still voting with a crayon and a piece of paper," said voter Randy Waddell of Prosperity.
Weather will continue to be an issue today. Light rain is expected to give way to possibly heavy showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon, potentially holding down the turnout.
Romney's rivals had been dead in the political water months and even weeks ago but the tide has turned. Gingrich struggled in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary but various polls have him leading in South Carolina.
Santorum now boasts a victory in Iowa following a recount but he too struggled in New Hampshire and Texas Rep. Ron Paul continues to stay in the game.
"If Mitt wins South Carolina, then anyone that continues on is walking dead," said GOP strategist Rob Stutzman to Politico.
"It was quite legitimate for all of them to go to South Carolina and see if they could break out. Because if one of them could win South Carolina, it would probably winnow the rest of the field out and leave more of a singular conservative for voters to coalesce behind," adds Stutzman who worked for Romney in 2008.
Politico also points out several things to keep an eye on in South Carolina.
The big question of who will win is followed close behind by the questions of how big will the margin be and what does that mean?
Going into the primary, Gingrich has the momentum, having done well in several polls and having delivered a strong performance at the debate in Charleston, especially with his opening salvo against CNN for starting the debate with a question about his ex-wife's comments in an ABC News interview.
Rick Santorum also had a strong performance in Thursday's debate and the question is how much of the conservative vote has the former Pennsylvania Senator racked up in his corner?
Santorum has been sitting in third place in polls leading up to the primary.
Other factors in the South Carolina primary will be how women will vote and how much religion will play a role in voters' decisions.
Santorum and Gingrich are both Catholics but South Carolina has a Protestant majority. Romney's Mormon faith has hardly been talked about in recent headlines in South Carolina so it is not clear how much of an impact religion will play.
With regard to women, Gingrich's support in South Carolina has been consistantly week according to Politico and CNN's poll of likely South Carolina Republican voters this week showed Gingrich polling 12 percentage points better with men than women while Romney did two points better with women than men.
That poll was taken before Gingrich's ex-wife gave interviews concerning their marriage.
Romney talks about only one woman - his wife of 42 years, Ann. He talks about his children and grandchildren, referring to them as the love of his life at the beginning of Thursday's debate.
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