The South Carolina Republican Party held their primary for governor on June 13. The race between Edward Lunn Young and Raymon Finch drew little interest compared to the Democratic primary and turnout for the Republican was less than that of 1974. Young defeated Finch in a close contest and earned the right to face Riley in the general election.
The general election was held on November 7, 1978 and Richard Riley was elected as the next governor of South Carolina. Turnout was higher than the previous gubernatorial election because of the increasingly competitive nature of the race between the two parties.