(WMBF) - After months of nonstop buildup, Republican candidates are duking it out down south, with the first Presidential Primary election Saturday.
Two candidates have already been crowned in Iowa and New Hampshire, but some say, those states are nothing like South Carolina.
"They are less diverse in a number of ways, like when it comes to race, ethnicity, when it comes to economics for example," said CCU political science professor, Dr. Holley Tankersley.
Dr. Tankersley says Iowa and New Hampshire don't look like the nation as a whole, but South Carolina is a pretty good barometer, and census data supports it.
Here in the Palmetto State, the population makeup matches up much closer, with better representations of female and minority citizens.
The South Carolina economy is also much more diverse, with different industries in different regions. It shares a similar unemployment rate with the rest of the country as well.
"You can't simply speak to one economic group, one socioeconomic class level, you really do have to be able to balance those interests in a way that doesn't turn off one group of voters at the expense of another," Tankersley said.
Dr. Tankerlsey says all these factors make South Carolina do or die for many candidates.
"If they don't win here, then that is a pretty strong signal they're going to have a tough time being competitive in other states as well," She said. "So, this really is a bellwether state, and it's also a firewall state for some candidates."
Dr. Tankersley says the primary here in South Carolina won't just give us a better idea of how the country will vote as a whole it will weed out more candidates. She says she expects several candidates to drop out following this Saturday.