FOCUS ON: SOUTH CAROLINA

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8 mins read

WHERE THINGS STAND IN SOUTH CAROLINA TODAY

South Carolina remains a reliably red state for the Republican Party.

But even South Carolina is not immune to the shifting demographics of the American electorate, particularly those in the suburbs. Granted, South Carolina does not have any large metropolitan areas, but there are still cities and suburbs, not to mention a significant African-American population.

In 2018 Joe Cunningham famously flipped South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. Also in 2018 Democrats flipped a State Senate seat in a Special Election.

And then just a few weeks ago in a State House Special Election, Democrats won a seat by 20 points that they had lost by only 3 points less than 2 years earlier.

Surprise election results like that in states like South Carolina – and other red states like Kansas and Kentucky – tell us that victories are possible in places where we thought they’d be impossible.

And while there are several elections we’d like to win in South Carolina, there’s one in particular we are clamoring for.

Which brings us to the first of many reasons why South Carolina deserves your focus this year.

REASON #1 – FIRING LINDSEY GRAHAM AND HIRING JAIME HARRISON

Let’s be honest. Lindsey Graham’s behavior – and the desire to see him punished for that behavior – is the main reason why South Carolina is a Focus 14 state.

His sycophancy towards Donald Trump these last four years has been one of the most craven acts of political cowardice in modern American history, and it has been made all-the-more repulsive to watch because we know that Lindsey knows better.

But while his behavior might have saved Lindsey in his primary, it might have jeopardized his chances in the general as the suburban realignment takes hold and the African-American electorate coalesces. 

Enter Jaime Harrison.

Jaime has run a near-perfect campaign for a state where no Democrat has won a statewide election in quite some time. He has appealed to all of the constituencies that a Democrat would need to be in contention for a seat like this in a state like this. And he has raised gobsmacking amounts of money from people who desperately want to see Lindsey Graham lose.

It’s a perfect storm for an underdog candidate hoping to shock the world.

Jaime Harrison can win this race. It will not be easy. But the reward will be worth all of the hard work we put in if he does.

REASON #2 – TRY TO FLIP THE SOUTH CAROLINA STATE SENATE

South Carolina is a Republican trifecta state, meaning that Republicans control the Governorship and both chambers of the State Legislature. That means that Democrats are largely shut out of state government, so any gains would be welcome.

The South Carolina State Senate is made up of 46 seats. All 46 seats are up for election this year.

In order to take control of the chamber, Democrats would need a net gain of 5 seats.

And while that might not sound like a lot, when it comes to a state like South Carolina, it’s a Herculean task.

But with that said, there are a few potentially vulnerable seats that are worth watching. Those seats are in Districts 15, 37, 38, 41, 43, 44, and 46.

Note that unlike in other states where there are at least a handful of likely flippable seats, none of these seats would be easy by any measure.

Conversely, Democrats would need to defend their own vulnerable seats in Districts 10, 11, 20, 26, and 27.

You can view South Carolina’s State Senate maps here.

REASON #3 – DEFENDING JOE CUNNINGHAM

One of the most pleasant surprises of the 2018 election was when Joe Cunningham flipped South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District.

Joe fought hard to take this heavily-Republican seat and with the help of the grassroots longing for a Democratic House takeover, he pulled off the win.

We have to defend this seat to keep up the Democratic momentum in South Carolina. And the better Joe does here, the better Jaime Harrison does in the Senate race.

REASON #4 – DEFEATING JOE WILSON

What better way to end the modern Republican party than with a blue wave that takes out the Congressman who had the temerity to yell “You Lie” in the middle of Barack Obama’s Presidential Address almost ten years ago. 

But this isn’t some pipe dream.

South Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District was gerrymandered to be a Safe Republican seat in the suburbs of Columbia. But we know what’s been happening to the suburbs, and it has not been friendly to the GOP.

Joe’s 24-point win in 2016 was reduced to a 13-point win in 2018. Similarly, the Republican vote saw a significant drop off in the Governor’s race in this district in 2018 from 2014.

Pundits agree that, under the right circumstances, Joe Wilson could be in trouble. And one of those circumstances would be a rockstar candidate like the one Democrats have in Adair Ford Boroughs.

A win here would be a welcome shock…and good turnout here could also help put Jaime Harrison over the top.

REASON #5 – MAKE INROADS INTO THE STATE HOUSE

There are 124 seats in the South Carolina State House. All 124 seats are up for election. Democrats would need a net gain of 19 seats in order to flip the chamber, which is a very difficult task given how these districts are drawn and the lack of filed Democratic contenders in many races.

But gains are possible in Districts like 26, 75, 97, 110, 112, 114, and 118.

Meanwhile, Democrats would need to protect vulnerable seats in Districts 15 and 117.

You can view South Carolina’s State House maps here.

REASON #6 – 9 ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTES

As with other red states I’ve profiled in my Focus 14 series, do we need South Carolina’s Electoral Votes? Nope.

Would it be amazing if we got them anyway? Yep.

That would only happen in an extreme wave year. 

But perhaps this could be that year.

Thank you for taking the time to read about why South Carolina is so important this year.

Keep in mind that these are not the only reasons to Focus on South Carolina in 2020. There are a number of other local elections worth your time and attention as well.

If you’d like to help Focus on South Carolina, please sign up HERE for the DemCast “Focus14” South Carolina effort.

And for more analysis, follow me at @trumpstaxes on Twitter.


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