It was a great night for Ronald Reagan, a good night for Gerald Ford, a big disappointment for George Bush and the beginning of the end for John Connally.
Reagan began his march through the South convincingly, with a lop-sided victory. If the South Carolina GOP primary has a psychological effect on voters in Florida, Georgia and Alabama, Connally's dead-broke campaign may never come up for air and Bush may be left limping north to Illinois.
For months, Connally built his deteriorating campaign around Sen. Strom Thurmond and former governor Jim Edwards, hoping they could move him where the Fortune 500 couldn't. It didn't work.
Bush almost skipped the South Carolina primary and many now regret his last-minute decision to jump in. In the days after the Iowa caucuses, when Bush had the "Big Mo," his staff thought he might be competitive with Reagan in South Carolina. In the last week, the Bush team hoped at least that he would be competitive with Connally. He was neither.
Gerald Ford spent part of his day with Henry Kissinger, no doubt thinking about another Ford presidency. No doubt others will be thinking of the same thing, despite the overwhelming obstacles facing Ford, in light of last night's results.
The unofficial delegate count so far, according to United Press International, looks like this: Reagan 60, Bush 36, John Anderson (who was not on the ballot) 17, Connally 1, Gerald Ford 0.