12 December 2011

Rank 36 / 16: South Carolina

South Carolina

Results of the last 6 presidential cycles:
(also included later in the complete historical table for SC)

YearRankWinning %% MarginPart. ValueSwing“National SwingTrend
200836 /1653.87%+8.98%+16.24%-8.10%+9.72%+1.62
200436 / 1657.98%+17.08%+14.62%+1.15%+2.98%+1.83
200039 /1356.83%+15.93%+16.45%+9.89%+8.00%+1.89
199642 /1049.89%+6.04%+14.56%-2.11+2.96%+0.85
199244 /0848.02%+8.15%+13.71%-2.48+13.29%+10.81
198848 / 0461.50%+23.92%+16.19%-4.07%-10.49+6.42

Blue shading = DEM pick-up over the cycle before.
Red shading = GOP pick-up over the cycle before.

South Carolina 
margin average, 1988-2008 (6 cycles): 
GOP +13.35%

SC county-by-county EXCEL spreadsheet

(raw totals, margins, percentages, percentages margins, shifts, county growth by %)


Remember, a trend designation is not a prediction
, it is a value that classifies the standing of the state partisan shift over the national partisan shift - did that state help a wave for a party, or did it stand in the way of a wave? That is the idea of a TREND value.

The Partisan Rankings over 44 years

The partisan rankings for Ranking 36 (South Carolina) from 2008 backwards in history to 1964 in Table-format (highlighted in yellow), can be found HERE.


 (electors through history) : 7 (1789), 8 (1792-1800), 10 (1804-1808) 11 (1812-1840), 9 (1844-1848), 8 (1852-1860), did not vote in 1864, 6 (1868), 8 (1872-1880), 9 (1884-1928),8 EV (1932-present).

South Carolina is the 16th most conservative state and the 36th most liberal state, with a Republican winning margin of +8.98% and having voted 16.24% more Republican than the national margin in 2008. 

South Carolina was also the 16th most conservative state and the 36th most liberal state in 2004, with a Republican winning margin of +17.08% and having voted 14.62% more Republican than the national margin in that year.

South Carolina was the 13th most conservative state and the 39th most liberal state in 2000, with a Republican winning margin of +15.93% and having voted 16.45% more Republican than the national margin in that year.

From 1904 - 2008, South Carolina went for the GOP 11 times, for the DEMS 15 times, and for an Independent candidate 1 time.

Since 1948, South Carolina went for the GOP 11 times, for the DEMS 4 times, and for an Independent candidate 1 time. (almost 3:1 ratio)

Since 1960, South Carolina went for the GOP
 11 times, for the DEMS 2 time. (almost 6:1 ratio)

When one speaks of North and South Dakota, one can use the term „The Dakotas“ to link the two states together politically. Not so with the Carolinas: North and South Carolina have divergent electoral histories and South Carolina has the more intensive and more rocky electoral history of the two.

Up to 1860, SC chose its Electors via „Appointment by State Legislature“, or „legislative choice“, as it was often called. A number of the 13 colonies used this method until the 1824 election. In 1924, about half of the states moved to popular vote elections to decide the electors for President and Vice-President. DE and SC continued with „legislative choice“ longer than the rest: DE moved to the popular vote in 1932, while SC hung onto the old method the longest, through 1860. In 1868, SC officially joined the Electoral College as a state that determines its electors via popular vote. For this reason, there is no statistical data for SC before the 1968 election. So, a good analysis of SC can begin first in 1868. SC, the first state to seceed from the Union (December 1860) ended up voting for a Republican candidate in the first three cycles of it's electoral history: Grant (1868, 1872) and Hayes (1876). How can this be?

Grant was without a doubt the most popular figure of the post-civil war USA. There were no special promises made to the defeated Confederacy and Grant was the highest General in the US military at that time, in charge of the occupation of the South and ensuring that black citizens would be given the rights that the North fought for. In spite of this, Grant acheived a 
+15.87% landslide in SC, which then grew to a phenomenal+51.85% blowout margin in SC in 1872. Through the „Amnesty Act of 1872“, amnesty was granted to former confederate soldiers, and through this act, Grant won a massive groundswell of new support throughout the South.

1876 was an entirely different story. First, 1876 was the first real electoral „backfire“ in our Union's history. Samuel Tilden, the Democratic nominee, won a clear 
+3.00% margin in the popular vote, but the results in OR, FL, SC and LA were called into question. The results of FL were the most contentious of all, but the closest race of 1876 was SC, and at the end of the day, the official record gave the popular vote win in SC to Hayes – with +0.49% (an 877 vote margin). For months, the national election caused strite within the Union. Democrats were screaming „Tilden or blood!“. When the promise was made that Hayes would actually slow down the pace of Reconstruction in the South, then the Democrats relented and accepted the decision of the House of Representatives panel of 15 (8 Republicans, 7 Democrats, who voted strictly along party lines), and Hayes won in the Electoral College, 185-184.

But from 1880 onward for 80 years, the Democratic Party had absolute dominance in SC. Democratic challenger (and loser) Hancock's blowout 
+31.38% margin in 1880 would grow to an absolutely astounding and unprecedented +97.15% MARGIN for Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936. Yes, +97.15%! 

It may be that Georgia has the longest overall Democratic voting record, but South Carolina has by far the most intensive voting record. In the world of „Electoralspeak“, a +10% margin is considered a „landslide“. A +20% margin is already considered a massive landslide. +25% is usally defined as a blowout. Oklahoma is a „blowout“ state for the GOP and has been so for a good while. In South Carolina, for 12 cycles in a row from 1900-1944, or 44 years straight, the democratic winning margin was 
+80% or higher, which means that the popular vote percentage must have been close to or above an astounding 90% each time! 

Regardless what kind of pounding the Democratic Party took nationally in Republican landslide years like 1904, 1908, 1920, 1924 and 1928, SC still gave the Democratic candidate around 90% of the vote OR HIGHER. There is only one other state in the Union that can boast a similar, but slightly lesser statistic: Mississippi, which had 10 cycles of 
+80% or above in a nearly identical time frame. The two states were the Democratic FIREWALL states of their day. And only two other states (outside DC) have ever had a +80%margin, also Democratic, also from the Deep South, once per state: Alabama and Louisiana. The Republican Party has no comparison to this at all. Essentially, SC and MS were the „Washington DC“s for the Democratic Party for about 84 years.

It is interesting to note that the two states with the most intensive Democratic voting record in history, SC and MS, were the first two states to seceed from the Union (SC: December 1860, MS: January 1861) 

Here is a table comparing the MARGINS of the states within the deep South from 1856 to the present. Notice the time frame from 1896 through 1944:

Voting Record – the DEEP SOUTH

YearSC - MarginGA - MarginAL - MarginMS -MarginLA -MarginAR-MarginTX-MarginFL -Margin
1864Civil WarCivil WarCivil WarCivil WarCivil WarCivil WarCivil WarCivil War

The color-coding in the „year“ column shows which party won the White House.

Every margin of +80% or more is in bold.

The differences in color for the margins themselves (this time without a „+“ symbol in front of every percentage) show clearly when a state was picked-up, but all the pick-ups from 1948 (Strom Thurmond) onward to 2008 are higlighted in their respective colors. 

Notice the MASSIVE turnover in the DEEP SOUTH from 1964 through 1980. After 84 years of absolute stability, SC along with the rest of the Deep South went through a very turbulent period of electoral shift, quite obviously over Civil Rights: Strom Thurmond and George Wallace are arguable the two most overtly racist, segregationist candidates the 20th century ever saw, and yet most of the Deep South went for both of them. On top of that, those states in the South gave their vote to Barry Goldwater, an ultra right-wing, Libertarian Republican who lost in a crushing landslide to Lyndon Baines Johnson (D) in 1964. With 61.04% of the popular vote, Johnson should have come close to a 49 state sweep in 1964, but the South was so infuriated over the Civil Rights Act, signed into law in the summer of that year, that the Deep South swiched teams pretty much en masse.

Richard Nixon (R) was helped greatly by George Wallace's independent candidacy in 1968. In a 3-man race, Nixon, a man despised within his own party, he was able to peel-off 4 of the 12 former confederate states (
SC, VA, TN, FL) and the one border state (MO) to the Republican column, while Wallace took 5 states in the Deep South, all contiguous (GA, AL, MS, LA, AR), leaving only one Southern state for Humprey (D): TX, which Humprey won only by a razor's edge. So, LBJ's prophesy that „We have lost the South for two decades“ upon signing the Civil Rights Act into law, seemed to be coming true. With those Southern States, Nixon won the Presidency in 1968. 

In 1972, Nixon's „Southern State Strategy“, discussed 
HERE in full in the analysis of GA, helped him to sweep the entire South and the rest of the nation against hapless George McGovern. His +42.66% margin in the Palmetto State is the number two GOP record in this state.

Had it not been for a Southern Democrat heading the ticket in 1976 and the fallout of the Watergate scandal plus Nixon's ensuing resignation, I bet that the GOP candidate would have retained SC and most of the South in 1976, especially if his name had been Ronald Reagan. But President Gerald R. Ford (R) was the nominee in 1976 and Jimmy Carter, a decorated war veteran and Governor from neighboring GA, reclaimed the ENTIRE south for the Democratic Party, thus delaying the coming of the Reagan Revolution by 4 years.

And come it did. In 1980, Reagan swept all of the South except GA (Carter's home state). However, SC was one of his leanest wins in that cycle (Reagan 
+1.53%, and a minority win). The rest is easy history: in his historic re-election of 1984, Reagan swept SC with a crushing +27.99% margin. Since then, South Carolina has been firmly planted in the GOP column.

John McCain's 
+8.98% win in SC (very comparable to Barack Obama's +8.95% pick-up win in CO, including the partisan shift value) may seem less impressive than in previous years, but appearances can be deceptive; the partisan shift 2008 over 2004 is the second highest value of the last 6 cycles: +16.24% over the national average. Yes, McCain lost considerably on margin over Bush from 2004, but the state has been so rock-solid GOP since 1984 that there was enough Republican „buffer“, if you will, to ensure a McCain win without the need to endlessly campaign there.

Important details about SC:


-2 Republicans won SC in the 19th century: Grant (1868, 1872), Hayes (1876)

-From 1880-1960, a period of 80 years, no Republican won SC.

-Since 1964, every Republican candidate other than Gerald Ford (1976) has won SC, and in the case of 2-term Republicans since Reagan, both times.


-Every Democratic President from 1884-1944 won SC (60 years), and every time: Cleveland, Wilson, FDR.
-Since 1948, two Democratic Presidents have won SC: Kennedy and Carter.

-Every Democratic candidate who lost the GE between 1880-1956 won SC: Hancock (1880), Cleveland (1888), Bryan (1892, 1896, 1908), Parker (1904), Cox (1920), Davis (1924), Smith (1928), Stevenson (1952, 1956) 

-Only one Democratic incumbent in SC's electoral histoy has lost SC in his re-election bid: Carter

-Only one Democratic 2-term President in history has lost SC both times: Clinton

-Were President Obama to lose SC in 2012, then he will join Bill Clinton in the statistic above. Should he pick-up SC in 2012, then he would be a brand new statistic for this state.


-One independent Candidate has won SC: „favorite son“ 
Strom Thurmond (1948) and one Independent candidate came in second: George Wallace, in 1968.

-There is one more sign of very interesting Independent activity in SC that would become reality in MS four years later: in 1956, a slate called "unpledged Electors" got 
29.45% of the vote, , behind Stevenson (D) and ahead of Eisenhower. Stevenson's win in 1956 in SC is the only Democratic minority win in SC's history to date. In 1960, those "unpledge Electors" would actually win in fellow deep southern state MS.

In the next posting is a complete table of the voting history of SC, with swings and trends included.

Complete Chart: South Carolina 1868-2008:

YearWinner – USWinner – SCDemGOPIndOth.%MarginNat'l MarginPartisan Value„Swing“Natl. SwingTrend
2004Bush 43Bush 4340.90%57.98%0.00%1.12%17.08%2.46%14.62%1.15%2.98%1.83
2000Bush 43Bush 4340.91%56.83%1.47%0.80%15.93%+0.52%*16.45%9.89%8.00%1.89
1992ClintonBush 4139.88%48.02%11.55%0.55%8.15%5.56%13.71%-15.77%13.29%10.81
1988Bush 41Bush 4137.58%61.50%0.00%0.91%23.92%7.73%16.19%-4.07%-10.49%6.42


Red shading = GOP pick-up 
Blue shading = DEM pick-up
Bold = missed the national winner
Shadings = pick-ups, either national or state.

Note the double percentages for 1948, 1968.

 the official margin is not between the two major parties, since an Independent won in one cycle and took second place in the other. The values in parenthesis are just for DEM vs. GOP.

You can see from the table that there lots of GOP trend values, but in a state where the Democrats were winning with 
90% of the vote and more, is a small GOP trend value absolutely moot. The same thing would apply to a series of Democratic TREND values in a state like WY, for instance.


Based on its voting record, SC is not bellwether state, having missed the Electoral College winner in 12 of the last 27 cycles and having missed the PV winner in 13 of the last 27 cycles, and more recently, it has missed the Electoral College winner 4 times since 1960 and the PV winner 5 times since 1960. 

Can SC become a battleground in 2012?

There were 14 polls of SC from March to November 2008. McCain won 13 of those polls and the final polling average was +12.55% for McCain. SC was NOT a battleground in 2012. The final averages overstated McCain's win, but the very last poll, SUSA, came very close, showing McCain at +8 over Obama. You can see the entire polling for SC-2008 HERE.

State Superlatives - SCYEARCandidateWinning %Notes
GOP1868Grant75.73%+51.95% margin, unparelled in GOP history in the Palmetto state.
DEM1936Roosevelt, FD98.57%
the highest winning percentage ever in the history of the Union.
+97.15% margin, the highest ever in the history of the Union.
IND1948Thurmond71.97%+42.87% margin, made for an unbelievable partisan shift of (technically) +129.70% over 1944.
---------------------Winning Margin %
All-time “squeaker”1952
Closest non-contested result.
Results heavily contested, national electoral backfire for Hayes.

In South Carolina, the Governor, Lt. Governor, both Senators and 5 of 1 US Representatives are Republicans. The other 1 US Representative is a Democrat. In the South Carolina General Assembly, the Republicans have a strong majority in the Senate and a hypermajority in the House.

Facit: in 2007, I wroteSouth Carolina is a rock-solid GOP bastion and far less likely to flip than a couple of states higher in the current rankings. „

Facit 2011: the assessment from 2007 was correct: IN, which was 4 places higher (the 12th most conservative state) in the partisan rankings from 2004, was a Democratic pick-up in 2008. Montana, which was 3 places higher in the rankings (the 13 th most conservative state) from 2004, went for McCain by a much leaner margin in 2008. Prospects for 2012? Since the „Goldwater Revolt“ of 1964, this state has been very, very reliably conservative and only went for one white Southern Democrat from neighboring GA in 1976: Carter. That being said, polling throughout 2011 of SC shows it to be competitive in 2012, and in the case of Newt Gingrich as the GOP nominee, Obama could very well win the Palmetto State for the Democrats, which would be the first time in 36 years. If polling continues to show SC really in play, then I will move it to the battleground states, but until such time, though the trend is STEADY to LEAN DEMOCRATIC, SC remains solid GOP territory.

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