This year’s election cycle is finally over, and the results nationwide show a clear shift: in the U.S. Senate, there will now be a slight Republican majority instead of a slight Democratic majority, and in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican majority will be larger than it has been in recent years. More state Governors will now be Republicans than in the recent past. Here in South Carolina, there was already a clear Republican majority in both houses of our legislature, and the elected offices were and remain filled entirely by members of the Republican Party. Things in South Carolina did not change much.
I’m a math guy, and wanted to look at the numbers for Edgefield County. Let’s just look at those offices for which there were both Republican and Democrat candidates plus, in some cases, “Third Party” candidates. Interestingly, there were no local contests in which both major parties fielded a candidate. There were six state offices on Edgefield County ballots with candidates from both major parties: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Comptroller, and State Superintendent of Education. There were three federal offices on our ballots with candidates from both major parties: our Congressional District and the two U.S. Senators. How did Edgefield County vote? In all nine of those races, the Republican won either 60% or 61% of the vote, except for the one Senate race in which there were several Third Party candidates; in that election, the Republican vote was 55%. And in all nine of those races, the Democratic vote was either 38% or 39%, with again that single exception, for which the Democratic vote was 37%. That is amazing consistency.
On a hunch, I looked up the ethnic composition of our county, based on the 2010 Census: 61% white and 39% black, virtually identical with the voting percentages. While I am sure that not every white voter voted Republican and not every black voter voted Democratic, the numbers who voted the opposite way essentially cancelled one another out.
We in Edgefield County need finally to come together. While our election results here may not be much different from what they were last time, or the time before, or the time before that, our future really does depend on our getting past what race we each are. There are good reasons to vote Republican and good reasons to vote Democratic, but what race we are is not one of them. I challenge both parties to ask this: why is it that we don’t appeal to those who look different from ourselves? Our local government, thankfully, now looks like all of us rather than like just some of us. Maybe here locally, it’s time to scrap the ideas of Republican and Democrat altogether for an election cycle, and have “Political Meetings” rather than “Party Meetings.” If this latest election proved anything in Edgefield County, it proved that we still have a way to go to overcome our differences and to work together.