South Carolina

Governors race

46.35Poll avg.
CandidatePredicted Vote %Win Prob.
Joe Cunningham42.0%6%
Henry McMaster58.0%94%

About South Carolina

South Carolina is historically a Republican-voting state. With a population of 5.1 million, South Carolina is the 23rd most populous state and the state with the eigth highest percentage of the population that is black at 27 percent. 67 percent of the state is white, and the state has historically been solidly conservative. There are about 3.3 million registered voters in South Carolina, most of them being older citizens.


Joe Cunningham (D)

Image of DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE Source: GovTrack

Henry McMaster (R)

Image of REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE Source: Appalachian Regional Commission

Joe Cunningham, a lawyer and ocean engineer, was elected in an upset victory to the U.S. House in 2018, where he served one term before losing reelection by 1.3 percent in 2020. He was a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of democratic reps who take more moderate to conservative positions, and according to GovTrack, was the second most consistent supporter of bipartisan bills and the fifth least consistently Democrat-voting member among house Democrats.

Henry McMaster is a Trump-endorsed Republican, as McMaster was one of the first elected officials to endorse Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, and Trump returned the favor by endorsing McMaster's current campaign early on in March 2021. McMaster has been in South Carolina politics since 1981, when President Reagan nominated him to be the U.S. Attorney for South Carolina. Since then, he's served as Attorney General of South Carolina, Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina, and a full term as Governor of South Carolina, in addition to serving the final two years of Nikki Haley's SC governor term after she was appointed the U.S. Ambassador to the UN under the Trump administration.


Joe Cunningham comfortably won the Democratic primary with 56 percent of the vote; Mia McLeod, who came in second, received 30.8 percent.

As the incumbent governor, Henry McMaster dominated the Republican primary with 84.1 percent of the vote.

Issues & controversies

Tally Casey, the first female fighter pilot in South Carolina and Democrat Joe Cunningham's running mate, is championing the issue of abortion, a major campaign point for the democratic ballot. Although the most recent conservative push for tightening abortion restrictions failed in the SC state congress, the state has historically been at the forefront of efforts to challenge Roe v. Wade before it was overturned. Another major issue is politician age—Cunningham frequently highlights the 35 year age difference between himself and incumbent Republican Henry McMaster, suggesting that McMaster is too old to be governing and should have gotten more done throughout the rest of his career. South Carolina's crumbling infrastructure and gas tax are also major issues for both candidates. McMaster has refused to suspend the state's gradually rising gas tax in the name of using the revenue to fund road repairs, while Cunningham advocates for a temporary suspension while gas prices are high overall. Cunningham also claims that the tax suspension wouldn't hurt infrastructure repairs due to the money South Carolina will receive from the American Rescue Plan and infrastructure restoration bill passed by the federal government.

Campaign ads

Chance of winning over time

We run our model twice a day. Explore how our prediction has changed over the course of the race.


Recent polls

Polls consist of polls ranked C- and above gathered by FiveThirtyEight.

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