If the road to the White House travels through South Carolina, then political science professors Gibbs Knotts and Jordan Ragusa have just published the state’s first political roadmap.

Their new book, First in the South: Why South Carolina’s Presidential Primary Matters, is a comprehensive look at how the state plays a pivotal role in selecting presidential nominees as the first southern primary state on the calendar (February 29). It also is filled with interesting facts about state voters and what candidates need to do in order to win in South Carolina.

“There is a lot of speculation about how the South Carolina primary works and some of its key dynamics, but there has not been a lot of rigorous analysis with data to test some of the main conjectures,” says Ragusa (pictured at right above). “We were able to do some of that in this book.”

Knotts and Ragusa argue that a key factor that makes the South Carolina primary so important is the unique demographic makeup of the state’s Democratic and Republican electorates.

“South Carolina is not only important in predicting a presidential winner, but also a consequential state that deserves its status as a significant early primary state,” says Knotts.

Since both political parties have endorsed the idea of South Carolina remaining the first southern presidential primary, Knotts and Ragusa believe the state will continue to play a pivotal role in selecting the nation’s future presidents for many more years.

Featured image of Gibbs Knotts and Jordan Ragusa by Mike Ledford