Republican Mark Sanford and Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch faced the voters today in a special election in South Carolina’s 1st District in and around Charleston.
Sanford, a former governor and congressman seeking a return to political life four years after an extramarital scandal, and Colbert Busch, a business official and an older sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, campaigned in the five-county district as they seek to succeed Republican Tim Scott, who resigned in January to become a U.S. senator.
Sanford’s biggest asset is the Republican tilt of a district that backed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama by 18 percentage points, 58 percent to 40 percent. So Colbert Busch would need to run about 9-10 points ahead of Obama’s 2012 performance to pull off the upset.
Because of the irregular schedule of the special election, voter turnout will be significantly lower than in a presidential election year or midterm election year.
Here’s a look at the five counties that comprise the district, with the most voter-rich jurisdictions listed first.
Charleston (41 percent of registered voters): The district’s most populous jurisdiction also is its least strongly Republican, backing Romney over Obama by 55 percent to 43 percent. Colbert Busch probably needs to win this county with a vote share in the low-to-mid 50s.
Beaufort (22 percent of registered voters): This slice of the 1st District includes Hilton Head and is older than other parts of the 1st, with a median age of 41.6 compared with 37.3 district-wide. Beaufort was the only county that Sanford lost in a Republican runoff election last month. Romney won the 1st’s share of Buford by 60 percent to 39 percent. Hispanics account for about 13 percent of residents who live in the portion of Beaufort in the 1st District.
Berkeley (20 percent of registered voters): Of the four biggest counties partly in the district, this is the most Republican-leaning, siding with Romney over Obama by 61 percent to 37 percent.
Dorchester (17 percent of registered voters): About 22 percent of residents in this part of the 1st are black, more than in any other county in the district. Romney won by 59 percent to 39 percent in the 1st’s section of Dorchester.
Colleton (0.2 percent of registered voters): The 1st includes just one precinct from this county, a few hundred mostly older and white Republicans who together gave Romney 75 percent.