• South Carolina likely won’t decide the Republican race, but everybody wants the win.

In 2008, the firewall isn’t there, at least not for any one candidate. There is no front-runner on the ropes for it to save and the field is fragmented like never before.

• The race could thin at least one out of the running: Fred Thompson.

“There’s no question we’ve got to do very well here,” said the former Tennessee senator, who fizzled in earlier states. “Different people are winning these different major contests and I think a different person will win Saturday in South Carolina. No one has settled in on anyone.”

• And now folks are saying we won’t have a crown for the Democrats either.

Yes, both Obama and Clinton want to win Nevada and South Carolina in hopes of building some momentum heading into that titanic day in early February when 22 states hold primaries and caucuses, including delegate treasure troves like California, New York, Illinois and Georgia. But both sides also acknowledge that wins (or losses) in either state won’t be determinative in terms of picking the nominee.

“This is a race for delegates,” said Howard Wolfson, communications director for Clinton. “It is not a battle for individual states. As David knows, we are well past the time when any state will have a disproportionate influence on the nominating process.”