Politics of South Carolina

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Prior to the 1960s, the state Democratic Party was firmly in control of the government of South Carolina at all levels. The state Republican Party was little more than a country club group organized to reap the benefits when a Republican was in the White House.[citation needed] Most voters in South Carolina were Yellow dog Democrats, but Governor Strom Thurmond's run for president as a States' Rights Democrat in 1948 opened up the possibility of voting for a party other than the national Democratic Party. The Republican Party did not gain relevance in the state until Strom Thurmond, as a United States Senator, switched parties in 1964 from Democrat to Republican. From 1964 to present, the Republican Party has gradually gained strength and by the 1990s it became the dominant party of the state.

Electoral strategy[edit]

Republican electoral strategy for state elections revolves around winning in the three major metro areas of South Carolina: Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston. When they run up big margins in the counties of Greenville, Spartanburg, Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, and Lexington, Republican candidates usually win and Mark Sanford demonstrated this perfectly in his 2002 gubernatorial race against incumbent Governor Jim Hodges.

Democratic statewide candidates typically focus on a strategy that maximizes their advantage in the Midlands, limits their losses in the Upstate, and breaks even in the Lowcountry. Jim Hodges defeated incumbent Governor David Beasley by successfully using this strategy in the 1998 gubernatorial election.

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