Most in the national news media are talking about how Donald Trump is now the clear Republican frontrunner and will be nearly impossible to stop. They are only partially right.
Trump, who won South Carolina (and all of its delegates) with a little under one-third of the vote, certainly is the front-runner. He has won two of the first three contests and has a clear lead in delegates. He should do well on March 1, when many Southern states hold their primaries and more than 600 delegates are at stake. By definition, that makes him the front-runner.
But the Palmetto State primary results, combined with recent national polls, suggest that Trump remains a tentative front-runner, not some kind of unstoppable favorite.
Trump drew about 32.5 percent in South Carolina, a little less than the 35.3 percent he attracted in New Hampshire and about eight points more than the 24.3 percent he attracted in the Iowa caucuses.
In other words, he did not do as well as the primary winners did in New Hampshire or South Carolina in 2008 or 2012. That’s understandable considering the size of this year’s field, but it raises questions about the eventual breadth of his appeal.