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Trump, Cruz, Rubio Hold Lead in Early Vote Count; CNN Projects Trump Wins in South Carolina. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired February 20, 2016 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: A huge, huge night tonight for all of these Republican presidential candidates.

[19:00:01] The stakes are enormous right now. In South Carolina, the polls are closing right now.

And this is a CNN key race alert. The early leaders based on the exit polls that we have, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio. They are the early leaders right now in South Carolina in this Republican presidential primary.

The second tiered candidates based on the exit poll estimates that we have, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, John Kasich. But the early leaders clearly as anticipated the big three right now, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

Just want to let our viewers know, this is an early snapshot based on interviews with the sampling of voters as they left select polling sites. We have more details from our exit polls. They're coming in. We will share with them very, very, very shortly.

But those are the early leaders and the second tier candidates.

I want to go to Trump headquarters right now. Sara Murray is on the scene for us over there.

Sara, he's one of the early -- one of the three early leaders as we had anticipated.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, Wolf. I think this is very much what we expected to see. We expected this to be the top tier here in South Carolina.

Look, the Trump campaign wants to be able to maintain a lead here, and they want to see a big turnout. They want to be able to say they brought a lot of new people into this process. And that those people voted for Donald Trump.

I think the other reality here with team Trump is they are sick of this idea that second place or third place is a win. They want to come into first place in South Carolina and leave here with momentum at their backs, headed into these SEC primary states -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's go to Sunlen Serfaty. She's at Cruz headquarters right now.

He's in the top three, according to our early estimates, based on the exit polls, Sunlen.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And it will -- if Cruz does pull off a second place finish here, this will certainly embolden his message going forward.

And I think we'll see within the Cruz campaign a lot of credit here potentially on his ground game here in South Carolina.

Looking at the numbers, just yesterday alone, the Cruz campaign tells me 12,000 volunteers on the ground, 63,000 phone calls. They knocked on 11,000 doors in a lot of part. They really wanted this state here in South Carolina to emulate the ground game that they brought to Iowa.

They are potentially happy with the second place finish. They think this really sends him to these March 1 southern SEC states with a lot of confidence going forward -- Wolf.

BLITZER: He's an early leader together with Donald Trump and Marco Rubio.

Let's go over to Rubio headquarters. Manu Raju is over there.

What are you hearing? What are you seeing?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTRER: Well, this is what the case that Marco Rubio's campaign had been wanting to make after New Hampshire, Wolf, that this is a three-man race. And if these polls actually end up the way we expect, it is one, two, three, and Jeb Bush and the rest of the pack are four, five, six. It will be easier to make the case going forward.

Now, Marco Rubio's campaign believes that it needs to increasingly make the case that Jeb Bush cannot win if he does not do particularly well tonight. So expect that argument to be made pretty aggressively going forward.

But, Wolf, I should add, they do see John Kasich potentially as a threat down the line. Marco Rubio going to Michigan next week where John Kasich is investing heavily right now. So, clearly, they are looking at South Carolina to be a state that actually has reordered the race and gives them a chance to compete for that number one spot, Wolf.

BLITZER: Once again, the early leaders based on the exit polls -- Trump, Cruz and Rubio.

Let's go over to Dana Bush, David Chalian.

This is an incredibly important night for these three early leaders.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. And you mentioned this and John as well. How important this is historically in South Carolina. 2012 was an aberration. Newt Gingrich won pretty handily, but didn't get the nomination.

But David in 2008, John McCain won South Carolina, got the nomination. 2000, George W. Bush won, got the name nation. And if you go back in time to several elections before that, it's the same story. South Carolina does pick winners. What are we hearing and seeing tonight in these exit polls about the feel of the electorate in terms of the kind of candidate they want?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I think that's true back to 1980. If you look at that history.

BASH: That's right, Ronald Reagan.

CHALIAN: I think what is so fascinating about this entire cycle and we are seeing again tonight in South Carolina, Dana, is what is sort of driving the Republican Party electorate right now? This number is astounding. Take a look at this. We asked voters as they headed to the polls whether or not they felt betrayed by Republican Party politicians.

This is asked of Republicans participating in the Republican Party: 53 percent of Republicans today in South Carolina said yes. A majority of Republicans in South Carolina said they feel betrayed by their own party leaders, 44 percent say no. That is what is happening underneath this entire primary race.

And then we asked, which candidate ran the most unfair campaign?

[19:05:03] And look at this: Donald Trump, the winner of this category, if you can call that winning. Forty-one percent of South Carolina Republicans say that he ran the most unfair campaign, followed by Ted Cruz at 32 percent, Bush and Rubio at 8 percent and Kasich down at 3 percent.

You were talking about folks deciding late in the game and how active and intense this campaign was in the final week leading up to tonight's primary. We saw a lot of accusations of lying and dirty tricks. Clearly, the voters are saying that Trump and then Cruz are running the most unfair campaigns.

BASH: That's true. But voters in South Carolina, especially at the Republican South Carolina, they're used to seeing and hearing dirty campaigns. I don't know that will sway them so much.

But, Wolf, the fact you see so many, as David was saying, Republicans simply think they were betrayed by the leaders in their own party, that obviously is helping drive the Trump vote in South Carolina and everywhere else.

BLITZER: The so-called anti establishment vote.

All right, guys. Stand by.

Once again, based on the exit poll information we're getting, the early leaders, Trump, Cruz and Rubio, the second tier candidates, Bush, Carson and Kasich. Jake, lots to assess right now. We're standing by for more numbers,


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. Let's talk about it with our panel.

South Carolina, a pivotal state. Pivotal state. And, Michael Smerconish, as you know, only one time since 1980 has a Republican candidate become the nominee without winning South Carolina. That was in 2012 with Mitt Romney.

When you look at these numbers, and a majority of the Republican voters in the primary feel betrayed by Republican leaders -- not by Washington, not by politicians in general, by Republican leaders -- you think, wow, that's got to be good for Donald Trump and/or Ted Cruz.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, oddly enough. I mean, you say for Donald Trump. And that's a no-brainer.

Ted Cruz is a sitting member of the United States Senate. And yet we both agree that it probably bodes well for Cruz, as well.

Among the things I'm interested in tonight, how well does Marco Rubio do, and can he continue to have a third, a fourth-place finish and still proclaim victory? Because Jake, sooner or later, he's going to have to win something, right?

One last thought. If I'm Donald Trump, I want everybody staying in at the end of the night. This dynamic of too many people being on stage is great news for Trump. So, as funny as it sounds, if Jeb doesn't have a good night and if Jeb should fade, that's not a good thing for Donald Trump.

TAPPER: And, Nia-Malika, the other thing exit poll number that 41 percent of Republican voters think that Donald Trump has run an unfair campaign in South Carolina. And 32 percent say Ted Cruz, the others just in the single digits. One imagines those might be Cruz supporters, might be the ones saying that about Trump and Trump supporters saying that about Cruz.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, and maybe that's to their advantage, because at least, so far, it looks like they're number one and two, at least they were going into this. So, you know, unfair campaigns are sort of the name of the game oftentimes in South Carolina.

What's interesting, I think, about Rubio, he went into this race with all of the marks of the establishment, right? He got Nikki Haley. He had Tim Scott down there. He had Trey Gowdy. I understand Joe Wilson also has come out to support him in the 11th hour.

So, this was his most sort of establishment showing and kind of image. But yet, we'll see how he's able to do and whether or not it's helped him. DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he will -- he

will survive to fight another day. The difference between this event and the one we watched earlier today is Bernie Sanders is going to go on, for a few of these contestants, it's the first day of the rest of their lives. They're going to leave after tonight. Jeb Bush may be one of them. Maybe Dr. Carson.

Marco Rubio needed to be -- first and foremost, he needed to put some distance between himself and Jeb Bush. And if he's done that, as is apparently the case, he lives to fight another day.

TAPPER: And Jeb Bush has put so much into South Carolina. He's campaigned in the state with his brother, the former president. He's campaigned in the state with his mom. It's hard to make a compelling argument that if he doesn't do well here, his campaign -- I mean, he financially might be able to continue. But that it should continue.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And you have to look at the distance between Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. It's hard to make a case for yourself as the alternative to a Trump and a Cruz, if you are trailing so much behind Marco Rubio.

TAPPER: Your own protege.

BORGER: Your protege. As I always say, it's Shakespearean between these two, you know? So you're going to have to look at the -- you're going to have to look at the margins there.

Also, as far as Marco Rubio is concerned, if this is a very angry electorate, feeling betrayed by the Republican establishment to a degree, that doesn't help Marco Rubio very much, who has gone out of his way, as Nia was saying, to kind of embrace the establishment and Nikki Haley and Tim Scott, and Trey Gowdy. And so, we'll have to see how that plays for Rubio.

TAPPER: Let's talk about our pundits over here.

[19:10:02] Amanda Carpenter, let me ask you. Obviously, you used to work for Ted Cruz.

Does he not need to win in South Carolina? What's the compelling argument that he doesn't? It seems like a state with such a strong evangelical vote, highest percentage that we have seen in it recent history turning out today to vote.

What's the compelling argument he shouldn't win South Carolina?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey, winning is always good. But the argument that is really going on right now between Cruz and Rubio is who is the best alternative to beat Donald Trump going forward to an SEC Tuesday.

Cruz's strategy, he's always been to perform very well in the first three early states. They didn't -- unlike Rubio, they didn't promise a win anywhere. Just to be very competitive and have enough gas in the tank to really perform well on march 1st. And so the margins are going to matter. If Cruz can edge Rubio out or make the case that I am the person who can take Donald Trump on, I'm the only one successful to date, that gives them a lot of momentum going into March 1st.

TAPPER: Jeffrey Lord, you're a supporter of Donald Trump. The idea that Donald Trump is an unstoppable if he wins in South Carolina has been floated. Because then you will have had three contests, he's won two, come in second once. And the schedule is not going to get easier for the candidates who haven't been racking up victories.

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right. And if you notice, periodically he would pick up criticism. Why isn't he in New Hampshire tonight, why isn't he in South Carolina tonight. It's because he was in places that are going to be in play on Super Tuesday.

He was in Oklahoma. He was in Arkansas. He was in Georgia. So, thinking ahead of the game here, they're ready for this to go on.

If he wins, the bandwagon starts to roll, I think. If he loses in a close match, there's going to be arm wrestling here. But they're prepared to do it, deal with it later on.

TAPPER: Hold on right now. I want to go to Sara Murray, who is Trump campaign headquarters for some discussion about the ground game Trump has put forward in the Palmetto State.

Sara Murray, what's going on?

MURRAY: Right, Jake. You remember in Iowa they really got burned. They thought they had a good operation there, and weren't quite up to where they wanted to be.

They tried to make a lot of changes going into South Carolina. Part of that is relying on a more experienced team. We know this is a campaign where Mr. Trump is putting most of the bills. So, they're trying to make this lean and mean. That means they hired operatives who had their own data, their own contacts to bring to the table, and about ten paid staffers in the state.

And this is really interesting, Jake. They have a couple of RVs that they have been driving around to the rural areas of South Carolina, trying to run up the vote there. So, this is a campaign that is definitely taking a unique approach, much like its candidate to the ground game here, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Sara Murray, let's go to Wolf Blitzer who has a key race alert.

BLITZER: First key race alert in South Carolina, very, very early -- maybe the first thousand votes counted. So far you can see Donald Trump is ahead with 35.7 percent. Ted Cruz 27.2 percent. Marco Rubio 17.9 percent, 15.5 percent for Jeb Bush. Ben Carson and Kasich in single digits.

But very, very early. He's only ahead by 147 votes right now, less than 1 percent of the vote is now in, in South Carolina. But Donald Trump has a slight -- very -- it's very early, impressive lead but it could obviously change, Dana and David, and as you're look at more information we're getting from these exit polls in South Carolina.

BASH: That's right. One of the most interesting things to look at as we go through these various states in the primaries and caucuses is how the electorate is with regard to how conservative, how moderate. And just anecdotally, one thing that I found, I don't know about you, I had a lot of people telling me that they just openly saying that I'm not as conservative as X, Y and Z, describing themselves more moderately.

Are we finding that tonight?

CHALIAN: No, we're finding a more conservative electorate in South Carolina tonight. As you I'm sure have spoken to voters in all the states we have been to so far, so many conservatives have been unhappy with the fact that they don't feel the most conservative, got the nomination in the end. And that's why Barack Obama was elected and re-elected.

Here you are seeing a more conservative electorate than we saw in 2012 in the Republican primary. Let's look how it breaks down. If you look among very conservative voters, that's about 39 percent of the electorate, Ted Cruz territory. He wins them 39 percent to Trump's 27 percent, to Rubio's 19 percent, and Ben Carson's 8 percent.

Then we asked what about somewhat conservative voters? Take a look at this. This is Trump territory, 34 percent of those voters go for Trump, 26 percent for Rubio, 20 percent for Cruz, 8 percent for Bush.

What you see here is when you go from very conservative to somewhat conservative, you go from Cruz country to more Trump and Rubio country. That's what we're seeing about these three early leaders and how both groups, by the way, the very conservative and somewhat conservative, are higher. There are more of them than we saw in 2012.

BASH: There's more of everybody than we saw in 2012.

CHALIAN: But I mean, as a share of the electorate, they are having a bigger impact. There are more of them in the electorate.

[19:15:02] BASH: And I think that's also interesting, because looking at the vote, a lot of people, at least in the first few -- first two contests, were looking at Trump and Cruz going after the same voters. But it doesn't seem to be playing out as much that way in South Carolina. But we'll see as we get the actual votes, Wolf.

BLITZER: These numbers are very, very early. Just give us some comparison, 2012 more than 600,000 Republicans showed up for the presidential primary then. So, we have got the first thousand or so. We'll be counting throughout the night.

Let's go back to you, Jake.

TAPPER: Let's continue with our experts here. Mike Rogers, one of the things I found unusual about this race is that

so few of the Republican presidential candidates seem to be willing to engage with the man who was actually winning, Donald Trump. There seems to be this bizarre other worldly, oh, it's a race for third place. Oh, it's a race for second place.

Do you buy this argument that you have to clear the deck before you can take on Donald Trump, or do you think this is a mistake?

MIKE ROGERS (R), FORMER HOUSE INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: Well, I think a couple of things. A., everybody has a strategy beyond South Carolina. Some of them won't make it beyond South Carolina. But they all have a strategy beyond South Carolina. So I think this could be a bad night for Bush in that regard.

But there was some taking on Trump in this. And South Carolina is the brass knuckles -- first brass knuckle early primary state any candidate will go into. It's not polite. It's not Iowa nice down in South Carolina. They bring them out and they go after each other. And you saw that in a very real way.

So, what the campaigns are trying to do now, can I be the one who is trying to draft whoever is one or two in the early primary states to take on Trump in the South? So, my argument is Cruz is probably best organized in the South for the next SEC primary date. But here's something that happened with Rubio. And I think you're going to see those numbers tighten.

This notion that these are I think -- he stood out there with establishment candidates I think is wrong. Nikki Haley had the stamp of approval from the Tea Party when it was getting its roots in South Carolina. Tim Scott has the stamp of the tea party, an African- American. Then you have certainly Rubio, who is -- his parents were first-generation Americans. Nikki Haley, first generation of Americans.

That powerful story, because he didn't have the best ground game, everything I'm hearing now his numbers are starting on the slide. That powerful image -- I thought it was an incredibly powerful image to have those folks traveling around the state saying we are the future of the Republican Party.

I think you saw his numbers -- if he does well in that close, tight race, he's going to do well in the South, I think. That would be my guess. And then you'll see them, all of them, start taking on Donald Trump.

TAPPER: Van, a lot of Democrats seem to think that Donald Trump would be the easiest to beat of the Republican candidates. Do you buy that? I'm not sure the numbers bear that out? He's certainly very appealing to white working class voters and to independents.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, I think that Donald Trump is very, very scary in a general election. First of all, he shouldn't even be around. I mean, he goes in South Carolina, he attacks George W. Bush on 9/11 and the war, and he's still in the lead. That is terrifying.

I mean, you shouldn't -- you should be sneaking out of town in the dark of night having done that. But he's about to win, it looks like, in South Carolina. That gives you a sense that something is happening with this candidacy that is not easily put into a bottle, number one.

Number two, it is not, in fact, the case that he has no argument to make to voters of color. People assume that because he has been so tough on Mexicans, because he's been so tough on Muslims, that he could not ever make an argument to the African-American community about jobs, whatever. I think that that is wrong.

I will say, I agree with you, about one thing. Rubio --

ROGERS: Just one?

JONES: Just one, I promise.


ROGERS: I'm going to improve on that.

TAPPER: The night is still young.

JONES: I will say, I agree about one thing. A week ago, we were writing Rubio off. That he had slipped on this banana peel, that he had been exposed, X-ray of his soul showing he was a hollow man and he was -- he fought his way back.

And it was a beautiful sight to see this new face of the Republican Party in the South winning over big crowds, whatever happens tonight, the fact that Rubio is not an after thought is a testament to his character.

TAPPER: I just want to read one tweet, as this is now the new normal, election coverage. A tweet coming from one of the Republican candidates, Donald Trump. It says, "People (pundits) gave no chance in South Carolina. Now, it looks like a possible win. I would be happy with a one vote victory (pope)."

That does seem to be, Jeffrey Lord, setting the bar a little low. He's a one-vote victory for Donald Trump when he has been ahead by double digits in the polls.

[19:20:02] LORD: He's probably watching so let me say the right thing here.

TAPPER: Yes. Otherwise angry tweets.

LORD: This chair will just go right now.

I would say that one vote is a win. I mean, I think that's what he's all about here. Practically speaking, in a political sense, he does have to go beyond this. He will go beyond this. He's got the resources to go beyond this. And you may well have an arm wrestling contest that's going to go on for some time. He's well positioned to take -- to deal with that.

To one of Van's points about Donald Trump being scary or as I would say attractive to voters, when Ronald Reagan stepped to the platform in 1980 to accept his nomination, the band played "Happy Days Are Here Again," which was an anthem in 1980 that was well-identified with Franklin Roosevelt and the Democrats Party.

I think Donald Trump has that kind of appeal and I think that's why he scare Van Jones.

TAPPER: Amanda, one of the arguments your boss, Ted Cruz, has been making is that Iowa spoke, he won. New Hampshire spoke, Mr. Trump won. Now, it's time to go South Carolina and make a decision. He wants this to be a two-man race.

CARPENTER: Absolutely. The polling shows if it's a two-man race, Cruz would beat Donald Trump. And certainly, there's the argument among many people -- many Republicans, if we can narrow the field that will take away Donald Trump's momentum. So, that's clearly where they want it to go.

And I do think -- it's very interesting that Donald Trump is lowering the bar so much. There were two developments this week that I think are going to be very problematic for him going forward. Number one was how far he got wrapped around the axle on the Bush lied remarks and when he was opposed to the Iraq war.

But then also what happened in the last town hall, which has been talked about in the conservative circles, but not so much out in the open, is that he came out in favor of the Obamacare mandate. He says that, oh, I don't like Obamacare, but he likes the mandate. That broke so late in this race, I don't think that idea has really settled in. When it does, he's going to have a lot more to answer for.

TAPPER: I think he backtracked from that. But, Jeffrey, as you know, and, Van, you were just talking about this, there's almost a Teflon quality --

JONES: Almost.


TAPPER: There's a super extra Teflon quality beyond even what we saw from Ronald Reagan, who was known as the Teflon president. Things don't stick to him.

LORD: Well, one of the things I think is important to understand when we look at Donald Trump phenomenon is that like Ronald Reagan, like in California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Donald Trump, before he run for this office, was a major or a certainly a good size figure of the American culture.

And I think when you step into a political race, with that kind of cultural dominance, you can run all the ads against these people that you want. Unlike having an effect on Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio who are politicians and don't have that sort of standing. This makes a big difference and creates that sort of Teflon coating.

JONES: But that is true, but it's not just a celebrity. There is a new media system that he understands. You know, FDR understood radio, and that made him a legend. JFK understands television. That made him a legend.

LORD: Lincoln with the telegraph.

JONES: Sure. Obama understood the Internet. He was able to do stuff on the Internet. We're used to it now. It was amazing then.

We are now in a reality TV era, a Twitter era. You don't get fewer followers on Twitter by being mean. You don't -- the villain on the reality TV show is always the star.

He's playing by a new set of media rules, and the rest of the field has not been able to figure out how to play that same game. He's not breaking the rules. He's playing by the new rules.

TAPPER: I want to give Mike the last word on this.

ROGERS: There is an economic band of Americans out there. Everyone sitting around this whole studio could tell an antidote of somebody who would not be considered a normal Republican voter has said in their ear, "I think I'm voting for Trump."

And you look at them and you go why -- there are a lot of Democrats. And why? Because he is an unpolitician, who is -- they argue is just completely broken the mold. And if this polling is right, they show he's the one that will come to Washington to break Washington which people are ready to do and they're the ones saying he's the one that will get us back to work.

That is a powerful message. So, all of this other stuff, people aren't identifying with that. And as a matter of fact, you'll even hear him -- I don't like everything he says but I really like this. That's the thing, though.

TAPPER: We'll continue this conversation in a second. I want to go back to Wolf Blitzer who has a key race alert.

BLITZER: Thanks. Good conversation.

This is a key race alert. Take a look at this. Very early, but Donald Trump maintaining a steady lead, 34.9 percent, Marco Rubio in second place right now 22.6 percent, Ted Cruz with 18 percent, Jeb Bush 12 percent, John Kasich, 7.7, Dr. Ben Carson, 4.8.

Less than 3,000 votes cast right now. But Trump maintaining his lead, 356 votes right now, ahead of Marco Rubio.

It's obviously, Dana and David, very early. You guys are working the exit polls and we're getting more indications of what's going on.

BASH: Really fascinating stuff. More about what the former congressman, Mike Rogers, is talking about, the inside versus outside. What people want in a candidate.

CHALIAN: Yes. So, first, we asked, if you want a candidate who has experience and politics, take a look at this -- 36 percent of those that said they want a candidate with experience in politics, Marco Rubio.

[19:25:03] Ted Cruz, 34 percent. Kasich, 11 percent. Bush, 11 percent. Donald Trump, so low on this score, he doesn't rate in the top four. He's down at 4 percent, of people who want experience in politics.

But what about the other side of this equation? Outside the establishment. Do you want someone from outside the establishment? Wow! Look at that. Donald Trump, 60 percent of those voters go his way. His next closest competitor, Ted Cruz, is 45 points behind on this score at 15 percent. Marco Rubio at 10. And Ben Carson at 10 percent.

Dana, the outsiders made up about 46 percent of the electorate today. So you're talking about nearly half the electorate, and Donald Trump wins them by 45 points, because it is this outsider status that is driving his candidacy.

BASH: And it is a mantra. I was at a Donald Trump event yesterday in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Every single person who I talked to considering voting for him -- he's not a politician. I'm sick of Washington. We need somebody new. We need somebody to break the cycle. So, obviously, that trend is continuing here.

One thing in the numbers you showed, which I think is just fascinating, the people who do want experience, two first-term senators topped the list, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. John Kasich and Jeb Bush who arguably have the most experience in politics, 11 percent. So, they're -- even the people who said they want experience, they're not going for the most experience politicians.

CHALIAN: Right, those big resume candidates aren't actually getting any traction there with voters. That's fascinating, as well as the fact that Ted Cruz who is known as the biggest outside in the Senate, only at 15 percent among the outsiders.

He was trying to make the case. You were saying before about how Trump and Cruz were really trying to split the same voters. Cruz is so far behind on that score, it's fascinating to see how he's been moved more as an insider than an outsider during the race.

BASH: Because he has senator in front of his name and Donald Trump doesn't.

BLITZER: Donald Trump still maintaining his lead very, very early, but still maintaining his lead.

Let's go over to John King at the magic wall. He's got a 33-22 percent lead over Marco Rubio, 21 percent for Ted Cruz. Once again, very early.

John, you're looking at this state. We're going to learn more about South Carolina in the coming hour.

KING: Just circled this area. I didn't know you were coming so quickly. Welcome.

This is the biggest area of evangelicals, Greenville, I circled it on the map so people could see the intensity of the evangelical vote. You turn this off, and you watch the early votes start to come in.

Ted Cruz winning these two counties early on. We don't have most of the votes up here. This is the key area up here. If Ted Cruz is to compete for a victory tonight, he has to do well up here, even if he's competing for second place, this needs to be the source of his greatest strength.

As you watch the map fill in, Wolf, we're at 1 percent. Let's be careful early on. We're just getting started here. But Donald Trump is the darker. Ted Cruz is the lighter. So, it's Trump and Cruz winning, the only counties reporting results so far, a long way to go.

As you see this map, one of the conversations interesting throughout the night tonight is if the stack stays anything like this with Trump on top, Rubio and Cruz in a fight. You see they're in a close fight for second place now. Jeb Bush in a fight for third place and then Kasich and Carson.

The interesting thing tonight, by the end of the night, the Republican establishment could be urging him to get out. Because as the panel was discussing, they think if Jeb Bush is out of the race, it boosts Marco Rubio heading to the southern state.

And yet at the same time, the establishment left leg saying, you keep coming in fourth or firth, you need to get out. The Republican establishment very much wants Dr. Ben Carson to stay, because the Republican establishment does not like Ted Cruz. And they believe the stronger Ben Carson runs, as we continue on through the south, even if getting 5 percent, even if he's getting 6 percent, even if he's getting 4 percent, they believe most of those votes are coming out of here.

So, a bit of some might call it hypocrisy in the Republican establishment tonight in the sense they want to clear the field more for the mainstream establishment. And if Marco Rubio comes ahead of Jeb Bush, they're going to make the argument he has won the right to be the establishment alternative to Trump and Cruz and at the same time, tell you quietly, we hope Dr. Carson stays in because they believe he holds Cruz's numbers down.

BLITZER: This is a critically important night for Jeb Bush. He was the mentor to Marco Rubio. But right now, it's very early. But he's not doing that great.

KING: And he is in many ways sort of the vehicle for the mood. He is the example of the mood in the country now. He was the Republicans' $100 million man. He raised so much money for his super PAC and for his own campaign.

Before Donald Trump got into the race, Jeb Bush was leading. Was he the frontrunner? We didn't a clear frontrunner. But he was the early favorite in this race.

He obviously has one of the most established brands in American politics and certainly in Republican politics. His brother and his mother were in South Carolina this week. South Carolina was so critical to his dad, George H.W. Bush when he won the presidency. So critical to George W. Bush when he won the presidency and Jeb Bush is struggling here.

So, this is a defining night without a doubt for the Bush campaign, it's been a tough year for him but speaks volumes to the mood of the country that a Donald Trump, a man who says he has changed his positions, like Ronald Reagan, but a man who once said the economy does better under Democrats, that he once said he was very pro-choice, gave money to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

[19:30:00] That Donald Trump is beating a Bush in South Carolina and it looks like he may beat him by a significant margin, tells you volumes. Speaks volumes about the mood in the Republican Party, and the anti politician, anti establishment mood we see in both parties. The strength of Bernie Sanders is much the same thing. Clinton is a brand and Bush is a brand. And a lot of voters they don't want a brand.

BLITZER: We'll see if South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley's endorsement of Marco Rubio actually helped. I assume it probably did. She is very popular. Stand by. I want to go over to Sunlen Serfaty. She's over at Cruz headquarters. Sunlen, this rivalry between Cruz and Marco Rubio is very intense right now. You're getting more information.

SERFATY: It is intense, Wolf. And a Cruz campaign adviser tells me that they are cautiously optimistic right now. But that much of the discussion right now within the campaign is all about and centered on Marco Rubio. Leading into tonight, they really set the expectations high for Marco Rubio, so if these standings, these preliminary standings that we're seeing now, if they stick, expect the Cruz campaign to really twist the knife at Rubio going forward.

The argument, according to advisers, that Cruz and his campaign will make going forward is that Rubio has proven that he can't break out anywhere and expect him to really question where can Marco Rubio win. In a large part, again, if Cruz is emboldened with this message tonight, going forward, he will really almost look past Marco Rubio. He will argue that this is a two-man race with Donald Trump going forward. This is a match-up that the Cruz campaign has always felt very comfortable with. Expect them to push that going forward, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Sunlen, thanks very much. Still very early, but Donald Trump maintaining, Jake, his early lead. We'll see how that unfolds.

TAPPER: And what was so fascinating about some of the early polls leading into this evening, let's turn to my analysts here, is that Donald Trump was polling better with evangelical or born-again voters in South Carolina. Than Ted Cruz was. And we see this evening that the percentage of voters in the South Carolina Republican Party calling themselves born-again or evangelical, was higher than we have seen in recent years, 73 percent, and it looked as though many of them were going for Donald Trump.

GLORIA BORGER: Yes, and I think, you know, this is Ted Cruz was hitting Donald Trump on that tremendously. I was with Cruz in South Carolina where he took on Donald Trump because Trump was threatening to sue him over an ad that he ran, which used Trump's own words in which he said in 1999 to Tim Russert that he was very pro choice. Remember that?

And Cruz was just hammering away at Trump. With evangelical voter, saying, look, he's not what you think he is. He doesn't share your values. He was quote, once, very pro choice. This is something you need to pay attention to. And the question we'll be looking at tonight is whether Cruz made enough in roads here with this huge number of evangelical voters to catapult himself to number two and how close he would be to Donald Trump.

AXELROD,: We should also look at -- into whether it follows the same pattern as Iowa, where voters who said values were the most important thing to them. Have no use for Trump. Trump finished well behind on that measure in Iowa. Cruz did very well there. That was one of the keys to his success there. And that could play out through some of these states where there are large evangelical numbers of voters.

TAPPER: Although in the -- I think one of the things that's been so interesting is the number of prominent evangelical leaders who have said this election cycle, we're not electing somebody to be the Christian in chief. We're electing somebody to fight for us.


TAPPER: And it is hard to argue whether he is going against the Pope or Apple or George W. Bush or Barack Obama. It is hard to argue that Donald Trump does not fight.

HENDERSON: That's right. And that's a message he has taken directly to evangelicals, saying that he would stand up for them. Sometimes he calls them "the evangelicals," and of course as 2 Corinthians and all sorts of things that aren't necessarily not in line with what evangelicals would expect to hear. But he has done tremendously well.

I do think there is something else in play here, the idea of evangelical voters. I mean, maybe 75 percent, 65 percent. It's such a broad category, almost -- I mean, not to say that it's meaningless, but I think it's hard to tell what exactly that means, does it just mean you believe in god. Does it mean you're like a Kim Davis evangelical?

AXELROD: These people may be evangelical voters. They also may be people who worked in textile plants.


AXELROD: They have other concerns. And Trump is speaking to those. So they can vote for Trump on a different basis.


BORGER: But Cruz would be the values voters, specifically.

HENDERSON: Which is about 30 percent.

Huckabee -- in 2008.

TAPPER: Mike, one of the things I thought was interesting is there's this viral video going around, 1,400 individuals who work at an air conditioning plant in Indiana being told that their jobs are going to Mexico.


This is an issue that Donald Trump mentioned -- he mentioned the viral video and talked about how he was going to stop that from happening. You can debate all you want about the reality of whether or not he could stop that from happening. But I agree with David when he says, maybe some of these evangelicals worked at textile mills that have been shut down, those jobs sent overseas. This is one of the reasons he's winning.

SMERCONISH: I think it is one of the reasons that he's winning and the antagonism that he has exhibited towards Mexico, sending us its rapists and so forth plays into this. He is the one who has most harnessed the anger and hostility that exists in this electorate. And the data as Dana and David were just explaining to us, shows that so many of these voters today have had it with the federal government.

I'm curious to see tonight if he is successful, does he defeat skepticism. Because even though if he is successful he will have won South Carolina, he will have won New Hampshire, and come within a whisker of Iowa, just in the same way that Mike Rogers says we all know somebody who whispers in your ear and says I think I'm going with Trump, there is still discussion among Republicans who say, I still can't believe he's going to be the nominee.

TAPPER: Hold that thought. We're going back to Wolf Blitzer who has a key race alert.

BLITZER: All right. Let's get to the key race alert right now. The actual numbers are coming in, and Donald Trump maintaining his impressive lead over Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. He's at 34.4 percent. But look how close it is for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. They're only one vote apart. They both have 21.2 percent. 4,297 for Cruz, 4,296 for Rubio. Jeb Bush, much further down. But Trump doing really well. Remember, three percent of the vote is now in Trump. Has maintained -- continues to maintain an impressive lead. Let's go over to John King at the magic wall. This is very good news for Donald Trump.

KING: Very good news. Three percent of the state in and you just went through the numbers. Trump with a big lead right now, 34 percent to 21 percent to 21 percent. As you look at the beginning of the map fill in, it's early, what does this tell you? Looks a lot like New Hampshire. Now, they're very different states. What do I mean by that? Donald Trump is winning some counties up here. This is the evangelical bedrock of Christian conservatives in South Carolina.

Donald Trump winning here in the center of the state. This is where Mitt Romney won. These are your mainstream establishment Republicans who live in the urban areas and the suburbs. Donald Trump winning here along the coast. These again retirees, military bases, other Republicans. More conservative in the north. More moderate as you get to the South. As the map fills in, this is exactly what Donald Trump was looking for. Yes, a little Marco Rubio here. Some Ted Cruz here and here. Marco Rubio there. It looks like a slugfest, wrestling match for second and third.

But if you look at the very early results come in. If you look at this map, let's go turn the (INAUDIBLE) we can take you back to 2008. That's the John McCain victory. Right? This was all Huckabee then. Donald Trump is winning up here. This was McCain and this was McCain. Let's go to 2012, this is all Newt Gingrich. Newt Gingrich with a little Romney. Romney here. Donald Trump, once again proving that he wins across the Republican spectrum.

He's pulling in these major counties, and if you look at this map right now, Wolf, every indication is that Donald Trump is winning up in the evangelical country, winning in the center of the state, winning along the coast right now. That would suggest to you that Donald Trump is on the way to just what he wanted tonight, victory in South Carolina, and, again, nobody who has won the New Hampshire primary and the South Carolina primary has not gone on to win the Republican nomination, Wolf.

BLITZER: Based on the exit polls, John, we had earlier announced that both Trump -- the Trump, Rubio and Cruz were the early leaders. But right now CNN is ready to make a major projection.

CNN projects Donald Trump, the billionaire real estate magnet, will win the South Carolina Republican primary. This is a huge win for him. Coming off of New Hampshire, where he won impressively. He is the winner, according to our projection, based on actual numbers coming in, based on what's going on in the estimate in the exit polls. They are obviously thrilled over at Trump headquarters.

Let's go over to Trump headquarters right now. Sara Murray is standing by. You can see the excitement, Sara, right behind you.

MURRAY: That's right, Wolf. This was already a celebratory crowd and now they have the numbers to prove it. A second win for Donald Trump. A victory here in South Carolina. And look, Trump came into this state knowing what he wanted to talk about. He hit his immigration message hard here. Stayed tough on national security, talking a lot about torture and a lot about waterboarding this week. There was a lot of speculation maybe he had gone too far at times and maybe his comments about George W. Bush would hurt him in this state. Now it's looking like that is not the case. The second victory for the billionaire businessman. Wolf?

BLITZER: A huge win for Donald Trump, Sara. And I assume sooner rather than later. He'll be walking out to address his supporters. What are you hearing about them?

MURRAY: I think that's right, Wolf. Look, this is not a guy who uses teleprompters. This is not a guy who writes his speeches ahead of time. But I do think going into this, even though they were ahead in the polls, when Donald Trump wins, it's almost like he's amazed by it. Everyone is amazed that we have gotten to this point. This is a campaign that started off as a long shot hope. And now here he is. He has won New Hampshire, he has won South Carolina. And as you guys just pointed out no Republican has won in these two states and not gone on to win the Republican nomination.


BLITZER: Very impressive win tonight for Donald Trump in South Carolina. Sara, stand by. Let us know when he comes out. We want to, of course, take that speech live. Dana and David -- you've got to give Donald Trump a lot of credit. Coming out of business -- no real political experience, wins decisively in New Hampshire and now takes South Carolina.

DANA BASH: Absolutely. We definitely need to take a moment and pause and accept and talk about how big this is for Donald Trump. Because not only did he, as you have all been saying just win South Carolina and New Hampshire, but he did it against all odds. He did it having not the greatest debate performance of the Saturday before. He did it not only once, but twice, criticizing George W. Bush for 9/11 in South Carolina where he's incredibly popular.

And by the way, a couple days ago, going at it with the Pope. And look at what just happened. It just kind of shows that his strength, the fact that he's not a politician, the fact that people think he says what they think, and that he knows how to make deals, all of that outweigh the negatives and the things that make some people win.

CHALIAN: My guess is we're not going to hear the Pope's reaction to Donald Trump's big victory tonight in South Carolina.

BASH: You never know.

CHALIAN: But I do not think that we can overstate what's going on here. Donald Trump is on the path to become the Republican nominee for president. More so than any other candidate in the race. That is what is happening here. And you know, if Ted Cruz in a state like South Carolina with 74 percent of the electorate being born-again Christian, cannot dent in to Donald Trump's path to victory, that is a problem. If it doesn't happen here, Donald Trump is only moving to terrain that is better for him from this point forward.

I think that it is going to take something that I don't see out there right now, to stop Donald Trump from becoming the nominee. Obviously, there are many more plays to go here. We'll see how the field shakes out. But that's where we are right now. Donald Trump on the path to the Republican nomination.

BASH: That's right. And if you talk to the people who are in favor of a more establishment candidate, what they will say is, well, if you add up all of the other votes and combine them, then that could perhaps beat Donald Trump. The problem is, you can't add them all up, because all of those candidates are still in the race, and by the time it narrows to one, from the establishment, it might be too late. And Donald Trump will be, as you said, well on the way to the nomination.

BLITZER: Well, he's well on his way to winning South Carolina. Very, very important. Let's show our viewers the vote as it stands right now. Take a look at this.

Donald Trump is way ahead with four percent of the actual vote counted. 33.5 percent. But look at this contest for second place. Rubio is now in second place. 21.8 percent to 20 percent. 20.1 percent for Ted Cruz. A fierce ballots for second place right now in South Carolina. Bush, Kasich and Carson, they're significantly down. But a fierce fight under way for second place between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Donald Trump, though, the big winner tonight in South Carolina.

Jake, we're going to hear from him probably sooner rather than later. Let's see if he gets those calls from some of the other candidates congratulating him on this win.

TAPPER: I would think we're going to hear from him fairly soon. Let's talk about with our analysts, Michael Smerconish, I mean, one of the things so remarkable about the fact that Donald Trump has been projected to be the winner of the South Carolina primary by CNN just now, is the fact that it's so handily -- and it's so early. It's not even 8:00, the polls closed 43 minutes ago. This is a decisive, triumphant win.

SMERSCONISH: Well, he followed the normal playbook, right? He went after a P.O.W., he mocked a disabled individual and openly challenged Apple. I mean, why are we surprised?

I go back to the point I made before. Wolf called it. Which is does this now represent the defeat of skepticism? Will Republicans begin to echo what Dana just said, which is the guy is on path now to win the Republican nomination. Because up until now, a lot of Republicans have said, yes, but. I'm not sure at this point forward.

BORGER: Wake up and smell the roses, right?

HENDERSON: Trump wins.

BORGER: Trump wins. And remember, Marco Rubio had a 3, 2, 1 strategy. One was supposed to be winning in South Carolina. That didn't happen this evening. And yes, it's a perfect storm for Donald Trump, as we look at all these exit polls, you know, voters don't want someone necessarily with experience. They feel betrayed by the Republican Party. They would like an outsider. They're mad at the government. All of that. But they also believe that Donald Trump speaks for them, and you have to give him credit for doing that, and for campaigning the way he has with the electorate. He has a connection with.


BORGER: In the Republican --


TAPPER: David, let me ask a question. There is another world in which Donald Trump -- an alternative universe, in which he's conducting this exact same race, except he has not done the things that cause Republican establishment insiders to get so offended in terms of calling for a ban on all Muslims, and suggesting that the Mexican illegal immigrants or undocumented immigrants are largely rapists and drug dealers. Is there a way in which you can separate the offensive parts of what he says and still keep the strong message and he has the night he's having? Or is it all part and parcel of the same thing?

AXELROD: Well, he's demonstrated maximum agility in shedding previous positions. I'm sure he could do that again if he were to move into another phase of this campaign. But -- and I think the truth is, the Republican establishment would probably prefer Donald Trump to Ted Cruz. I think that that is absolutely --



Because I think Cruz has made a practice of enraging every single Republican in Washington while he was there. I think they think maybe they can work with Donald Trump. They don't think they can work with Ted Cruz. I just -- I would just want to -- we tend to leap at these things on a night like this and we draw grand conclusions. It is true that Trump has done well. He is getting a third of the vote tonight. There are -- every single poll you look at suggests that if it were one-on-one against one of these other guys, that he would probably lose. He never really gets above 40 percent.

And so the question is, will Cruz and Rubio now be emboldened to stay in, and essentially make Trump the nominee, or will there be some kind of coalescence? I think it's unlikely they'll find that common ground. One other thing, we heard earlier that by leaps and bounds, Trump won the award tonight in this exit poll for running the most unfair campaign. So now we have to ask, did they mean that in a bad way or a good way?

HENDERSON: South Carolina probably a good way --

TAPPER: Nia Malika, obviously Cruz and Rubio will look at tonight's results, two and three, wherever they end up, and they will continue. Will that continue to divide the vote? Let's assume for the sake of argument that it's a three-person race. Doesn't Donald Trump continue to win that? HENDERSON: Yes, I think that's right. You look at, for instance, Ben Carson. Ben Carson is doing 6.3 percent. At this point, he's taking some of that vote, evangelical vote, likely from Ted Cruz. He might stay in. Maybe just to be the spoiler against Ted Cruz. But even -- I mean, I think if you add all of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, they still are getting 50 percent. And this is kind of the anti establishment of the argument is always like oh, if everybody drops out then Rubio would come through and consolidate the establishment. It looks like he might not even have enough, if all those folks drop out.

TAPPER: Amanda Carpenter, let me ask you. Do you believe, as many Cruz people do, that Marco Rubio is just kind of a figment of the Republican establishment's imagination? He doesn't really have a path? These third-place victories aren't really enough, and this is just a lot of wishful thinking, because the Republican establishment doesn't support Ted Cruz or Donald Trump?

AMANDA CAPERNTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, here. We'll see where Rubio finishes tonight. But certainly, everyone says he's the most electable candidate. Yes, at some point you have to win. So we'll see what the margins are. When it comes to Donald Trump winning South Carolina, sort of think there is potential for hope for the Republican party, in beating Trump.

The Republican party has been so divided. So fractured. It's -- it looks like Donald Trump is on his way to winning. This may be the moment where they realize they have to come together and finally work to advance core beliefs. Or they will risk losing everything to Donald Trump.

TAPPER: Mr. Lord.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: I call on my friend, Michael Smerconish's wisdom the other week about the reality of the human ego. These other people in this race and this is Michael's observation, which I agree with totally. They're going to get into the old kid's game of no, you get out, no, you get out. No, why should I get out? They're running for president of the United States. They think they're on their way, even if their fevered imaginations. So I don't think that's going to happen. I don't think anybody is going to get out.

TAPPER: Mr. Rogers.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Unless forced out.

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTAROR: On the Trump thing. One of the things he did in South Carolina that we hadn't really seen him do anywhere else, he went in early and got a lot of the tea party activists and organizers, and got them on his campaign.

And in 2010, this would have been the rock star of all tea party campaigns. Now the tea party has since fractured a little bit in South Carolina, and it's a little bit all over the map. But that was the first, in my mind, organizational skill event that the Trump campaign engaged in. It actually looked like you were trying to win through the strategies of old-time politics. Hadn't seen that before. That's going to make it -- if he it continues, tougher for other candidates.

TAPPER: We're going to take a very quick break. A reminder, Donald Trump will be my guest on "State of the Union" tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern. We're going to take a very quick break and we expect Donald Trump to take the stage and declare victory.

Back after this.



BLITZER: Let's go to key race alert right now. CNN has projected Donald Trump is the winner, but with eight percent of the vote now in, he's got an impressive lead in actual votes already, 34.4 percent.

Look at the fight for second place between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. They have been going back and forth, 21.8 percent for Cruz, 21.1 percent for Rubio. Bush, Kasich, Carson, they're way down. The numbers just changed. Nine percent of the vote in. Trump maintaining his lead. He's got 19,690. 12,590 for Cruz in second place.

Marco Rubio just behind him with 11,873. These numbers are coming in. Let's go over to Trump headquarters right now. Sara Murray is standing by over there. Very happy folks over there at Trump headquarters. And I assume they're getting ready to hear from him. We'll all hear from him fairly soon, right, Sara?

MURRAY: Yes. They are certainly very happy here tonight. Look, their work isn't over. A source here on the ground is telling us they want a 50/50 sweep here. They want to win every congressional district. Look, when I was talking to campaign manager (INAUDIBLE) just yesterday, he was saying this nomination is not sewn up.


He does not feel they are getting the credit they deserve for winning in New Hampshire and now for winning in South Carolina. He told me if any other Republican in this race had the kind of numbers that Donald Trump had, we would be talking about the heir apparent to the Republican nomination. Despite the win in New Hampshire, despite the win in South Carolina, they say that this nomination will be sewn up when they get that 1,237 delegates, Wolf.

BLITZER: They're talking like politicians now. All right, Sara, stand by. We'll, of course, have live coverage of Donald Trump's remarks. There a fierce battle for second place under way right now. Let's go over to Rubio campaign headquarters. Manu Raju is over there with a special guest, the senator from South Carolina, who supports Marco Rubio. Manu.

MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Hey, Wolf, here with Tim Scott, a Rubio supporter. Now, Marco Rubio is in a fight for second place. But he may not win the state. This will be the third state in a row that he has not won. Why is that a good result for Marco Rubio?

SEN. TIM SCOTT, SOUTH CAROLINA: You put it in context. When you start off with New Hampshire, fifth place, you're coming in to south Carolina, all the media -- you guys have (INAUDIBLE) his obituary already. The reality of it is, this state is a place of new beginnings. We have seen Marco momentum start and get stronger and stronger by the day. It's exciting times for Marco. I believe that this is a spring board into the S.E.C. primary as he continues to do well here as he competes for second place and sends a clear signal that Marco 's opportunities are growing. And frankly, to think about the fact that in his lane, there are many cars, Kasich car to the Bush car, a Rubio car. So when this consolidates, it's going to be a surge for Marco.

RAJU: Speaking of that lane, one of the people on that lane is Jeb Bush. He looks like he's underperforming here tonight. Do you think he can continue on? Is there a rationale for his candidacy, in your opinion?

SCOTT: It's hard to tell you what the Bush camp is thinking. He's served as a great governor. I think he would be a great opportunity for him to bring his folks over to the Rubio camp. The reality of it is, everyone who is running wants to do something good for America. So the question is, once we realize that's not going to happen, what do you do next? It's hard to answer that question unless you're the candidate.

RAJU: Do you think he should drop out?

SCOTT: Well, it is not for me to say. The fact of the matter is that I'm hoping that Marco will continue his momentum forward. We would love to encourage the Bush supporters, the Kasich supporters and even the Carson supporters to take a second look at Rubio.

RAJU: When does Rubio actually need to win a state?

SCOTT: Well, this a cross-country run. This is not a sprint. We have only been to three states so far. We have 47 more to go. The truth of the matter is, he'll get victories in the coming weeks. That's going to be good news for us. But as that lane consolidates, you've got a conservative guy, a principled conservative, that can actually win in that establishment lane. That means we have crossover appeal throughout the Republican party which means he has the ability to unite the party. And not only compete in November, I think we win in November.

RAJU: Thank, Senator Tim Scott. Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Manu, thanks very much. 11 percent of the vote now in South Carolina. Trump continues to maintain a very impressive lead, 33.6 percent, a fierce fight under way for second place. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz ahead 22.2 percent. 21.1 percent, as you can see over there for Marco Rubio. There's not a whole lot of difference. Once again, 11 percent of the vote is now in. As I say, this fight for second place is very, very significant. But Trump is the big winner. BASH: He is. And you know, Manu just asked a very important question

about Marco Rubio, which is doesn't he have to win somewhere? And I was talking to a Rubio source a couple of days ago who admitted that's what their donors are going to start to ask him. Aren't you going to win somewhere. The person who did win was Donald Trump. Let's look at the ways in which he won. Why he won.

CHALIAN: This is what is behind the Trump victory tonight. Take a look at this, in our exit polls, among the voters who are angry with the federal government, that's 40 percent of the Republican primary electorate, 42 percent of them went for Trump. 25 percent for Cruz. 17 percent for Rubio. And eight percent for Carson. That's nearly a 20-point lead there, 17-point lead for Trump among angry voters at the federal government.

How about looking for the candidate who can bring needed change. This is 31 percent of the electorate, Trump wins these voters, big time. 43 percent go with him. 23 percent for Cruz, 16 percent for Rubio. Eight percent for Bush. So he is the vehicle for the angered. He is the vehicle for change. And then this last important category. Evangelical voters. We have been talking about it all night. This is not such a huge victory for Trump, as you can see. He gets 31 percent of them. 27 percent for Cruz, 22 percent for Rubio and eight percent for Dr. Carson.

But here's the thing, Dana. He wins them -- he wins them, granted it's a margin of four points, they make up 73 percent of the electorate, and that is the opportunity where if you were going to be able to make in roads and you're Ted Cruz, and the evangelical voters are your base, this was your place to do that, and they didn't do that. So not only does he give voice to the angered. Not only does he look like the candidate of change, all big important stuff for South Carolina Republican voters, he also doesn't allow anyone to take turf with evangelical voters. That is -- put that all together. That's how you get a big Donald Trump win tonight.