While Democratic prospects to scoop up the state's new Congressional district seem increasingly dim, the traditionally best targets - Congressional freshmen - don't look any more vulnerable to Democratic challengers either.
For this, they can thank a combination of factors, including friendly districts, strong fundraising leads and weak opponents.
In today's edition of The State, Seana Adcox looks at the Congressional races in South Carolina's 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th Districts, where the state's four House freshmen are all running for re-election:
South Carolina’s four freshman congressmen say they want to continue to fight for limited government and reduced spending, while their Democratic opponents accuse them of contributing to gridlock in Washington. Republican Reps. Tim Scott, Jeff Duncan, Trey Gowdy and Mick Mulvaney discount that characterization, saying they were elected to stem spending. Their opponents face long odds, with little cash to spend on their campaigns in heavily conservative districts.
Of the four Congressmen, Duncan in the 3rd and Gowdy in the 4th District won't be impacted much by last year's redistricting, with both of their districts changed little in last year's redistricting, both shedding some of their more-distant and rural areas. However, the 1st and 5th Districts changed considerably in favor of their Republican incumbents:
- The First District's coastal "tail", which connected Horry and Georgetown Counties to the district's Charleston metro "core", was flipped to tie it to Beaufort County, restoring the long-time "Lowcountry" district that existed before the 1991 redistricting. This change reduced the number of Democratic areas in the district somewhat but drastically reduced the number of GOP primary voters from outside of the Charleston area, Scott's political base. While the old district had Democratic areas in rural Georgetown and Horry Counties, the areas which were added were almost entirely GOP-friendly precincts in Beaufort County.
- The Fifth District shed it's eastern wing of Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence & Marlboro Counties, a Democratic-leaning region which went for the then-incumbent Democrat John Spratt in 2010 by 3,993 votes, while Mulvaney won the Fifth District race by 23,538 votes. With the exception of four small rural counties which make up a small portion of the district's population - Chester, Fairfield, Lee, and Union - the bulk of the district is made up of Republican-trending counties which Mulvaney carried comfortably in 2010.
These favorable changes, combined with existing Republican-friendly districts and strong fundraising advantages, bode well for the re-election bids of the state's four House freshmen.
Ironically, Mulvaney's challenger was responsible for helping recruit a viable Democratic candidate. Looks like she did as lousy a job finding a candidate as she did as being a candidate.