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Rep. Nancy Mace, who unseated a Democratic congressman in a close 2020 election, is a beneficiary of new district lines designed to prolong a 6–1 Republican advantage in South Carolina’s delegation.
The Republican-drawn map signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster (R) reconfigured Mace’s coastal 1st District such that Donald Trump would have defeated President Joe Biden there by nine percentage points in the 2020 election, up from a six-point Trump margin in the current 1st District.
Mace (R), the first woman to graduate from The Citadel military college in Charleston, defeated one-term Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham in the 2020 election to help bring Republicans within five seats of a House majority. Republican mapmakers across the nation have focused on shoring up swing districts or areas where they think Democrats will erode GOP advantages in the next decade.
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Democratic legislators opposed the map, alleging that Republican mapmakers concentrated too many Black voters in the heavily Democratic 6th District of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. Clyburn, whose district abuts Mace’s, is the only Democrat in South Carolina’s congressional delegation.
According to the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, the South Carolina map could face a legal challenge from the ACLU and NAACP.
Republican legislators said Mace’s 1st District was overpopulated and Clyburn’s district was underpopulated after a decade of population shifts. Congressional districts are supposed to be about equal in population. The remap shifted more than 123,000 people in Charleston County from Mace’s district to Clyburn’s.
Republicans noted that about 48% of the people in Clyburn’s reconfigured district are Black, down from about 53% in his current district.
The reconfigured 1st District, which also has major population centers in Berkeley County north of Charleston and in Beaufort County in and around Hilton Head to the south, would remain the most competitive district in South Carolina.
The next-most competitive district probably is Republican Rep. Joe Wilson‘s 2nd District, which would be dominated by Lexington and Richland counties in and around Columbia and Aiken County on the Savannah River border with Georgia.
Republicans would continue to be strongly favored in the northwestern 3rd District, the 4th District in Greenville and Spartanburg, the 5th District from Sumter to the suburbs of Charlotte, N.C., and the 7th District in the northeast.
McMaster signed the map into law Wednesday, the same day the state House voted 72 to 33 to clear the new lines, concurring in an amended map from the state Senate.
To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org