CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Republicans in South Carolina will be watching the Iowa Caucus results very closely because later this month the "First in the South" primary could see a similar candidate leader board.
"It's an interesting process a lot of people think this is the end," says SC GOP First Chairman Lin Bennett. "But it's the beginning. This is a vetting process."
Bennett says tonight's Caucus is a big indicator of how South Carolinians will vote come January 21.
"I call it an elimination process," says Bennett. "What it's going to do is start eliminating those that won't be able to raise the funds and get their message out and make the field a little smaller."
Citadel political science professor Major Scott Buchanan agrees.
He says, "Iowa serves to begin funneling the field down."
Buchanan believes of the seven candidates, one or two may drop out after their Iowa performance, or lack thereof.
"Recent history, republican nominees have not won Iowa," says Buchanan. "So it's not a given. One of the things you want to be is in the top two."
The candidates who come out on top may help predict who will win South Carolina because of the two state's similarities.
"The biggest similarity you can draw is they're two small states in which you engage in retail politics," says Buchanan.
The political science professor says retail politics is a term for setting up camp, hitting the streets and getting out into the community to spread your message. That strategy is used in both Iowa and South Carolina and may lead voters to similar outcomes.
But Buchanan believes it's still anyone's race.
"This is where you're going to see a lot of jockeying for position once we get through Iowa and New Hampshire," says Buchanan. "The thing about South Carolina is it's often referred to as the firewall of the republican nomination. You've got to be a true blue conservative to get the support of South Carolina Republicans."