The Daily Gamecock

Column: Educate yourself early this voting season

<p>A graphic of South Carolina congressional districts, who is running in each district and who is running for certain highly anticipated positions on November 8.&nbsp;</p>
A graphic of South Carolina congressional districts, who is running in each district and who is running for certain highly anticipated positions on November 8. 

After the results of the South Carolina primaries, it's essential for all South Carolina residents to educate themselves about this game-changing midterm coming up on November 8 and to vote. 

The U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 8 will determine all the House of Representative seats, numerous Senate seats, Governor positions and many state positions. It will be one of the most important midterm elections so far because of the divide in this country. 

Polarization is a phenomenon that shows both the Democratic and Republican parties growing further away from each other, creating an even bigger divide between members. This is due to negative feelings between the two, racial divide and policies becoming more extreme. This all is turning the U.S. into a conflicting place to live. 

"It's a complicated phenomenon," Joshua Meyer-Gutbrod, an instructor in the political science department at USC said. "It sort of reflects itself, between the parties in power and the House and Senate, how the campaigns operate, and then also how the voters are and so there's layers of polarization when you start to unpack it."

Depending on how the election goes, with the vast possibility of the House and Senate going red under a Democratic president and a conservative court, these midterm elections are crucial since there is an already existing gridlock within the government, leading to little getting done. Everyone needs to educate themselves on who they are voting for and shouldn't just vote based on a party, but on morals and policies. 

South Carolina had an eventful primary on June 14 with some definite divide. The following breakdown will go into each major primary election in South Carolina. It will show an analysis of the election, why the elections were interesting or caused more attention and how certain aspects like faith and former President Trump endorsements are important to residents of South Carolina. 

Governor's race

In no surprise, incumbent Henry McMaster won the Republican primary. The incumbent, the person currently holding office, in almost all situations, has the advantage. This is because they have the recognition, the money and the trust of the people they serve. 

The actual race was the Democratic primary. Joe Cunningham, a former U.S. House of Representatives member won against Mia McLeod, a South Carolina state senator. Also between the two candidates, there was some drama involving the South Carolina Minority Leader Todd Rutherford endorsing Cunningham over McLeod, who went to social media saying it was because she didn't appoint Rutherford's wife as a magistrate. 

This primary was just the first obstacle for Cunningham. Running against an incumbent and a Republican in an overtly Republican state this Nov. will be an uphill battle for the Democratic primary winner. The turnout for the Republican primary was around 360,000 people, while the Democratic primary had only 180,000 voters, which could be a sign for the midterm election. 

This election is one of the most important for South Carolina. Residents need to keep in mind the recent rise in inflation, which is at 8.3%, can't be blamed on any politician, but according to Joseph Von Nessen, a research economist with the Darla Moore School of Business at USC, this is due to a multitude of reasons with COVID-19 as well as supply and demand issues. He also said that along with the weighted inflation, the labor market, rising prices and high gas prices will be on voters' minds this election season. 

“These are pocketbook issues that affect South Carolinians and so this is at the forefront of their minds when they’re looking at policies that the candidates are proposing and how those policies can potentially help or harm those — those challenges that they're currently facing,” Von Nessen said. 

Senate Race

Incumbent Senator Tim Scott, a Republican, ran unopposed, giving him the spot in the midterms. Scott runs heavily on his pro-life agenda and strong religious values, which are very important in the South. 

"There are religious component of politics, particularly in the Republican Party in the South is important, and it has been, really since the early 1980s," Robert Oldendick, professor of political science at USC, said. "The Republican candidates whose faith is important to them kind of use this because they know that it appeals to their supporters, that it helps them to win elections." 

Scott will be up against Krystle Matthews, the Democratic candidate. What will be interesting is both candidates are African American. Race does have a play in elections. This is called descriptive representation when people vote to mirror their certain race, gender or religion. So white voters, who generally vote for white Republicans, don't have that option, and if they choose to vote, they will be voting for an African American, and they'll look at the candidates' policies instead. 

"White voters in each of these instances (Georgia and South Carolina elections) will not be voting along racial lines per se because most candidates will be African American," Todd Shaw, a political science and African American studies professor at USC, said. "It will matter as to what those candidates say about things like related to civil rights or poor policing or other issues that are of concern to the Black community." 

District one and seven-race

District one and district seven had a similar layout but very different results. The incumbents, Nancy Mace from district one and Tom Rice from district seven, were once Trump-endorsed candidates but lost his trust. Mace voted to say President Biden won the 2020 election, while Rice was one of the 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Trump. This led to Trump backing Katie Arrington from district one and Russell Fry from district seven. While Mace defeated Arrington, Rice was beaten by Fry, the only incumbent to lose his seat in the primary. 

Why did one Trump-backed candidate win and the other didn't? District seven is a much more conservative district than one, according to Oldendick, but with Rice, who was elected in 2012, is the only representative they've had since the district was created in the 2010 census and was appointed a representative in 2011, it shows how powerful Trump's endorsements are. 

"The fact that he voted to impeach Trump really just made a lot of people angry, and obviously it made the former President angry," Oldendick said. "(Fry's) a state senator from that area. He's in that district. He has pretty wide name recognition. He was campaigning on all the issues that the more conservative Republicans in that district really felt were important. I was a little bit surprised about how soundly he was able to defeat Rice, but the outcome itself was not a surprise." 

Mace will be running against Democratic candidate Annie Andrews, while Fry will be running against Daryl Scott. 

Everyone needs to vote. It's early enough to start researching any candidate that you can vote for. Every South Carolina resident can vote in the Governors election, the Senate election and the Superintendent of Education election. Residents can also vote for the House of Representative member that represents their district and any local elections

Huge issues are going on in this country, like the Supreme Court, with all its recent decisions. The Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision has wreaked havoc across the country in form of protests and residents fighting for their lives. 

As Associate Justice Clarence Thomas said in his concurring opinion, this country is likely to see more cases that are under the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause fall. 

"What the broad concern is, is that if Roe, which is also based in Griswold, is knocked down, what's happening next," Jessica Schoenherr, assistant professor of political science at USC, said. "What does that mean for these newer decisions that have been made? Obergefell was decided in 2015. Lawrence v. Texas was in 2003. So they're not even anywhere close to as old as Roe. Will they also eventually get overturned?."

The midterm election is held on November 8. Everyone needs to be voting, whether that's through in-person or an absentee ballot. For most citizens, there is no reason not to vote other than not being educated and laziness. If you aren't happy with how this country is, vote. 

For more information on South Carolina Primaries, check out Ballotpedia


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