Press Box

The First South Carolina Exit Polls

The 2 p.m. exit polls gathered by the Voter News Service from the South Carolina Republican primary place George W. Bush well ahead of John McCain.

George W. Bush: 52 percent
John McCain: 42 percent

These numbers parallel the tracking poll of South Carolina voters conducted on Wednesday and Thursday by CNN/USA Today/Gallup, which gave Bush a 52 percent to 40 percent edge over McCain. Even so, a word of caution is in order. These are very early numbers in an election that is drawing huge turnout. Some voters are waiting for up to two hours to cast their ballots, and analysts have said from the beginning that a big turnout was essential to a McCain victory.

Also, a high number of absentee ballots are expected, and exit polls don’t include absentee voters.

Additional exit-poll numbers will be reported here later in the day, at about 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Why am I releasing the exit poll numbers before the polls close? Click here for my explanation.