Beaufort County, like rest of state, shows big increase in turnout
By MIKE MCCOMBS
When Joe Biden won South Carolna’s First in the South Democratic Primary on Saturday, Feb. 29, is wasn’t just a big win for him. It was the biggest turnout for South Carolina Democrats ever.
The 539,020 voters who cast ballots in the primary exceeded 2008’s total by 6,869.
And Beaufort County played a big part in the record-setting day. With an 81 percent increase in voter turnout over the last primary, the county was second only to York County, which saw an 86 percent increase.
“The party (in Beaufort County) will have more voters heading to the polls in November,” Beaufort County Democratic Party Chair Mayra Rivera-Vazquez said Monday night. “South Carolina wants a change and will elect more Democrats up and down the ballot in November. South Carolinians are ready to send Lindsey (Graham) home and re-elect Joe Cunningham to Congress.”
Rivera-Vazquez said the numbers were a good indication Cunningham could hold on to his 1st Congressional District seat.
In Cunningham’s district, all four counties represented in the district saw a significant increase in Democratic participation – Beaufort (81 percent), Berkeley (63), Dorchester (62) and Charleston (58). And the 1st Congressional District had the state’s highest turnout in pure numbers – 103,538 votes.
“Suburban voters in the Lowcountry are more moderates,” Rivera-Vazquez said, “and will align with the issues that Joe is fighting for in the Congress.”
Several regions of the state that have long been strictly Republican territories saw big increases in Democratic participation, as well. In addition to York County, Lancaster County saw a 75 percent increase in participation and Greenville County saw a 72 percent increase.
Those numbers may bode well for Jaime Harrison, who is fighting to take the U.S. Senate seat of Lindsey Graham, a big ally of President Donald Trump. Harrison has been polling well, within the error margin of Graham, who has been in the Senate since 2002.
“Definitely, the chances of having Jaime Harrison as our next U.S. Senator are higher,” Rivera-Vazquez said. “Look at the numbers, especially in counties that are traditionally Republican. This turnout is a strong message that South Carolinians want a change and they will send Lindsey Graham home and elect Jaime Harrison.”
Rivera-Vazquez downplayed any significant impact of state Republicans’ Operation Chaos efforts to skew the Democratic race toward Bernie Sanders
“Look at the numbers,” she said. “Biden led every poll in S.C. and not only with black voters, but in every demographic.”
And if Republican voters changed the margin of victory, it wasn’t by a significant amount.
“This is a monumental moment for Democrats in South Carolina,” South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Trav Robertson Jr. said in a release. “Voter turnout from this past weekend reflects what many of us already knew: South Carolinians have had enough. These numbers should scare Republicans.”
Robertson said Democrats must now “take advantage of this opportunity” and put their candidates in a position to win in November.
Rivera-Vazquez was confident they could.
“Prepare for November,” she said. “Change will come.”
Mike McCombs can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.