SC-05 Special Primary Election Outlook

Today is election day in South Carolina! Specifically, we’ll be covering the special election to fill OMB Director Mick Mulvaney’s former House seat.

Mulvaney represented the 5th Congressional District, which is located in the north-central region of the Palmetto State. Historically, SC-05 had a rural character and was very amenable to moderate Democrats. However, as the Charlotte metro area grew over the last few decades, GOP-leaning suburban voters increasingly spilled into the district. Likewise, its rural counties have generally drifted away from their Democratic roots. Last year, President Trump did quite well in the district, carrying it with 57% to 39% for Secretary Clinton:

Today, both parties will be holding their primaries. Given the lean of the district, the GOP side has gotten more attention.

On the Republican side, their are five serious candidates. The top fundraiser has been former State Rep. Ralph Norman, a wealthy real estate developer who has been able to self-finance (loaning his campaign $305K last month, for example). Norman vacated his State House seat to run. One of the other contenders here, State House Speaker Pro Temp Tommy Pope, represents an adjacent legislative district. Pope, despite being only 55, started his political career in 1992, as a State Solicitor in the region, so is well-known. A third serious Republican is former state party chairman Chad Connelly, who is from the more rural part of the district. While Norman and Pope have tried to appeal to business-friendly voters, Connelly has put more emphasis on social conservatism. One of the more idiosyncratic candidates is Sherri Few. Few is known for her activism against Common Core, and has run several times, unsuccessfully, for the state legislature. Finally, the last serious candidate is Tom Mullikin, an attorney who serves in the State Guard.

If no candidate clears 50%, a runoff with take place in two weeks. Given the competitiveness of the field, a runoff seems likely.

On the Democratic side, the party has largely united behind Goldman Sachs adviser Archie Parnell. Parnell has been endorsed by former Rep. John Spratt, who held the district before Mulvaney. Parnell has two lesser-known opponents, so is likely, but not certain, to avoid a runoff.

Polls will close at 7 PM Eastern Time.