Clemson, SC (CNSNews.com) - Texas Governor George W. Bush Friday predicted that he would win the South Carolina Republican primary, with supporters saying that any victory by any margin would make them happy.
"We'll take a one-point victory in every state in the nation," Rep. JC Watts (R-OK) told CNSNews.com. "The media may try to make it look like we have to win by 20 points for it to be legitimate, but any victory brings home the (convention) delegates."
GOP convention delegates from South Carolina are awarded on a 'winner-take-all' basis, according to the Republican National Committee, meaning that the candidate who wins in any particular congressional district in the state wins all the delegates from it. The overall winner also captures all 19 of the state's at-large delegates.
However, other states award convention delegates based on the percentage of the vote won by each candidate.
On the day before the primary, Bush concentrated his campaign stops in the northern tier of the state, where a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll indicates that his support is strongest. Statewide, that same poll gave Bush a 12-point lead over rival Senator John McCain.
At a campaign appearance at Clemson University, which has hosted two events for his campaign already, a capacity crowd met Bush Friday.
"Tomorrow is voting day in South Carolina and from what I see at Clemson, I like my chances," said Bush, whose confidence prompted loud applause from those assembled in a packed, 1,200 seat campus amphitheatre. More Bush supporters stood outside the amphitheater, but were unable to enter because there was no more room.
Much of Bush's speech focused on education, using the opportunity of speaking on a college campus to decry what he called "the soft bigotry of low expectations," for minority students. "In Texas, we never quit on any child. I want to bring that agenda to the nation," said Bush.
Farther east, McCain spent Friday stumping along the state's coastal area where many of South Carolina's estimated 353,000 veterans live. Veterans are a key constituency of McCain, a Vietnam War veteran and former prisoner of war.
Large as the state's military and veteran community is, self-described religious conservatives also make up a large part of the electorate, according to Bush supporter and former Christian Coalition Executive Director Ralph Reed, who predicted that Bush would beat McCain handily among church-going voters.
"He'll win in every category but among the religious, we expect him to win big," Reed told CNSNews.com.
But some of Bush's support from cultural conservatives is offset by McCain's appeal among independent voters and Democrats, many of whom have indicated their intention of voting in the Republican primary.
The specter of so-called crossover voting drew criticism from former South Carolina Governor Carroll Campbell, who told CNSNews.com that it was "unfortunate that some Republicans are encouraging Democrats and Independents to disrupt the primary," by voting in a GOP primary when they're not members of the party.