50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 8. South Carolina

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts so far can be found here

8. South Carolina

Capital: Columbia

Nickname: The Palmetto State

Motto: Dum Spiro Spero

(While I breathe I hope)

About the State

South Carolina – the 40th state in terms of area and 24th ranked in population, with approximately 4.6 million residents – was home to 29 Native American tribes and nations, before the arrival of European explorers decimated their number as they were exposed to new diseases.  Original attempts had been made by the Spanish and French to colonize the region but, after these had failed, it was the English who established the Province of Carolina.  Between 1715 and 1717, the settlers fought the Yamasee War against several Native American tribes, initiated by the Yamasee and the Ochese Creek to try to stem the spread of colonists.  For the first part of this conflict, it appeared the colony may be defeated and cease to exist until, in 1716, the Cherokee joined forces with them to fight against the Creek, their traditional enemy.

In 1729, the Province officially became two royal colonies, of North and South Carolina, and the latter was the first to declare independence from the British, doing so in March of 1776.   Loyalists helped the British regain control of the state but, following defeat in the Battle of Cowpens in 1781, their troops retreated and many slaves escaped with them.  South Carolina’s economy was based around the production of rice and cotton, both of which used slave labor to prosper and this led to them being one of the foremost defenders of the practice in the Union.  In 1858, Congressman Preston Brooks from South Carolina attacked Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts with a metal-tipped cane, because of an anti-slavery speech he had given.  The  state was the first to secede from the Union, doing so in December of 1860, even before Abraham Lincoln assumed the office of President, and the first Battle of the Civil War was at Fort Sumter, South Carolina.

After the war, the state was readmitted to the Union in 1868 and went through a period of Reconstruction.  African-Americans were subjected to violence from whites, in particular members of the Ku Klux Klan, which led to President Ulysses S. Grant passing the Civil Rights of 1871, which was designed to enforce the provisions of the 14th Amendment and gave the Executive Branch the power to suspend habeas corpus.  Because of this, many members of the KKK fled South Carolina, but racial tensions continued and African-Americans and poor white people suffered disenfranchisement, as obstacles such as poll taxes and literacy tests were introduced as requirements for people to cast their ballots.  Even in recent history, the state has been behind the times in some crucial areas: between 1962 and 2000, a Confederate flag was flown on the State Capitol; while South Carolina did not ratify the Nineteenth Amendment, that extended the right to vote to women, until 1969.

The economy of South Carolina is based around: agriculture, its main products being tobacco, peaches, poultry and cattle; manufacturing of textiles, cars and chemical products; and tourism, especially at Myrtle Beach, which is considered to be the golf capital of the world due to the 120 courses located there.  There are no major sports teams in the state, though Duncan Park in Spartanburg is the oldest minor league baseball stadium in the country and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson – who was part of the infamous Black Sox team of 1919 – hailed from Pickens County.  Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of the United States, was born in South Carolina, but his home state was Tennessee.

2012 Election

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 9

2008 Result: McCain 53.9%, Obama 44.9%

Latest Poll: None

There has not been an updated poll for South Carolina since December of last year, when President Obama led by 3%, but that was a hypothetical against candidate Romney, before he had won the nomination.  If Obama were to carry the state in November, he would be the first Democrat to do so since Jimmy Carter in 1976 and I expect Governor Romney will win South Carolina and its 9 Electoral College Votes.

Also on the Ballot

Congress: There are no Senate election in South Carolina this year.  After the reapportionment from the 2010 Census, the state will gain an extra seat in the House of Representatives, taking its total to 7.  Currently, the Democrats have just 1 Congressman to the Republicans 5, with the new district also expected to be won by the GOP candidate, Tom Rice.

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