South Carolina's congressional districts were redrawn following the 1990 census. The Republicans joined forces with the black Democrats in the state legislature to form a black-majority district; this gave the substantial minority the chance to elect candidates they favored. It also made the other districts predominately majority white by a greater margin, and these conservative voters had been favoring Republicans for some time.
The boundaries of the 6th congressional district were shifted from its previous northeast position in the state to the central part of the state and defined to include many of the black belt counties, as well as black precincts of Charleston and Columbia. Incumbent Democratic Congressman Robin Tallon opted to retire rather than run in a district that he considered unfavorable to a white candidate. Jim Clyburn won the Democratic primary and defeated Republican John Chase in the general election to succeed Tallon in office.