Another Twist in SC Drama: Rainfall

As if this election needed another plot twist, South Carolina is hit with a downpour on election day.

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Lead changes, sex scandals—what's next in the topsy-turvy GOP primary?

How about a downpour?

Rainfall has been steady so far on primary day in the Palmetto State, ranging from a deluge to a drizzle. Thunderstorms are expected in the central area of the state, including its most populous city, Columbia, in the late afternoon. Typically, rain tends to depress turnout, but don't count on that from South Carolina voters.

"Republicans in this area are pretty die-hard," says Alex Acree, a Greenville voter. "You see some pretty dedicated people around." He added that the area was likely tilting towards Newt Gingrich. The rain definitely didn't stop about 200-300 people from coming to rally with Gingrich as a nearby high school in the early afternoon.

One Greenville precinct only had a handful of voters come in at mid-day, but another reported turnout at near 40 percent—what the state party had been predicting, and in keeping with previous elections.

Does rain bring out the true believer?

Craig and Sarah Osterling, with baby in arms, came out to vote, even though Craig Osterling says he "hates the whole game of politics." The couple agreed on Rick Santorum. "He's most in line with my values and beliefs."

A Ron Paul supporter says he wouldn't miss it.

"I've been voting ever since I was 18," says Anthony from Greenville.

Another wild card in this? Absentee ballots. The South Carolina State Election Commission issued about 29,000 absentee ballots and has received about 27,000 back so far. That's about 6 percent of the expected 460,000 turnout predicted by the state Republican party, but would be more pivotal if the rainfall keeps folks from the polls. Many retirees are from outside the state—or even outside the South, and may be more favorable to Romney. And with an election with this many twists and turns, a voter who sent in a ballot a week ago missed out on a lot of campaigning.

  • See political cartoons about the GOP hopefuls.
  • Is South Carolina Newt Gingrich's to lose?
  • See photos of the Republican contenders on the campaign trail.
  • aparker@usnews.com

    Twitter: @AlexParkerDC