By Copper Dome Strategies

Friday, Nov. 6, 2020

A “blue wave” that pollsters and pundits had predicted for months did not materialize in South Carolina in Tuesday’s election. More so, a number of incumbent veteran Democratic lawmakers in both the state House and Senate were defeated. Republicans took back the 1st Congressional District seat.


U.S. Senate

In the most expensive race in South Carolina history (Harrison alone spent over $100 million), incumbent U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham (R) easily defeated challenger Jaime Harrison (D) with 54% of the vote. Pollsters and the media had been saying for weeks the race was too close to call yet Graham won by nearly 350,000 votes. Graham will begin his fourth six-year term in January.


1st District – In the only hotly contested congressional race in South Carolina, Republican SC House member Nancy Mace defeated incumbent Democrat Joe Cunningham to take back the Lowcountry seat for Republicans. Cunningham won the seat two years ago after incumbent Mark Sanford (R) lost in the GOP primary.

2nd District – Incumbent Joe Wilson (R) defeated challenger Adair Burroughs (D).

3rd District – Incumbent Jeff Duncan (R) defeated challenger Hosea Cleveland (D).

4th District – Incumbent William Timmons (R) defeated challengers Kim Nelson (D) and Michael Chandler (C).

5th District – Incumbent Ralph Norman (R) defeated challenger Moe Brown (D).

6th District – Incumbent Jim Clyburn (D) defeated challengers John McCollum (R) and Mark Hackett (C).

7th district – Incumbent Joe Rice (R) defeated challenger Melissa Watson (D).

South Carolina Senate

Three veteran incumbent Democratic state senators lost re-election this past Tuesday.

  • The most surprising loss was that of Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw) who has served since 2004 and twice was the Democratic nominee for governor. Sheheen was defeated by Republican businesswoman Penry Gustafson.
  • Longtime Senator Floyd Nicholson (D-Greenwood) was defeated by Republican Billy Garrett
  • Glenn Reese (D-Spartanburg) was defeated by Republican Josh Kimbrell.
  • Other new Senators who will be sworn in during the organizational session in December are Michael Johnson (R) in District 16, Vernon Stephens (D) in District 39 and Brian Adams (R) in District 44.

Republicans will hold 30 seats in the Senate; Democrats will hold 16 seats.

Two Republican Senate incumbents thought to be in tight races in the Lowcountry easily won re-election – Senator Chip Campsen in District 43 and Senator Larry Grooms in District 37. Incumbent Senator Sandy Senn (R) narrowly defeated Democratic opponent Sam Skardon to win another four-year term.

South Carolina House

The House of Representatives also saw two incumbent Democrats lose re-election. Mandy Powers-Norrell, who ran for lieutenant governor in 2018 on the Democratic ticket and was seen by many as one of the rising stars in the Democratic party, was easily defeated by Republican Sandy McGarry in the House District 44 contest.

In the House District 52 contest in Kershaw County, longtime incumbent Laurie Slade Funderburk was defeated by Republican Vic Dabney.

There will be 15 new members of the House sworn in during the December organizational session. The chamber will then consist of 81 Republicans and 43 Democrats.

To see all South Carolina election results: Click here.


The House of Representatives has scheduled an organizational session in preparation for the 2021 legislative session on Dec. 1-2. The Senate has not yet scheduled the dates for their organizational session.


The General Assembly has no plans to return to Columbia until the organizational session in December. We will keep you apprised of any legislative activity.

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