COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - In a presidential election that’s come down to the wire, with many states across the country flipping between red and blue, it seems South Carolina has remained the same.
“South Carolina is a redder state than a lot of people ever thought,” said political analyst Joel Sawyer.
In 2016, South Carolinians elected President Donald Trump over Hilary Clinton by a margin of nearly 13 points. So far, the race is closer this year in the Palmetto State, but our state’s results still show a decisive win for the president over Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
“South Carolina is seeing some demographic shifts, but we are not seeing them as quickly as North Carolina and Georgia,” explained Sawyer.
In 2016, President Trump was victorious in Georgia with 51% of the vote and won North Carolina by a slightly slimmer margin receiving votes from nearly 2.3 million people. In this week’s election, however, both of those states remained up for grabs on Wednesday.
“Barack Obama won North Carolina in 2008. So, for a democratic candidate, it is possible for them to appeal to cross over voters in North Carolina,” said Sawyer. “In particular, North Carolina is certainly more swingy right now than Georgia is. They do have a democratic governor.”
Despite a shift in our neighbors to the south and north, South Carolina remained red, posting Republican victories in many key races.
That includes what was projected to be a highly contested race between Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison, which ended up being a convincing win for Graham.
“You could certainly argue that if Jaime Harrison had done nothing other than put his name on the ballot in South Carolina, the results would not have been much different because South Carolina is that red of a state,” added Sawyer.
Experts point to large cities in our neighboring states as contributing factors to why Georgia and North Carolina are seeing closer races, but in South Carolina, even some areas considered to be more urban like Greenville voted Republican in 2020.
“Greenville was so red, it was called the buckle of the Bible Belt for a long time,” said Sawyer. “Charleston was always somewhat bluer than Greenville has ever been, so as those demographic shifts happen, Charleston becomes a reliable blue county much more quickly than a place like Greenville [or] Spartanburg.”
As for if or when South Carolina will join its neighbors as a possible swing state, Sawyer says he doesn’t believe it will happen anytime soon.
“I think it’s going to be at least a decade before we are having a real conversation about South Carolina becoming a purple state,” he said.