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2002 United States Senate election in South Carolina

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2002 United States Senate election in South Carolina

← 1996 November 5, 2002 2008 →
Lindsey Graham official photo.jpg
No image.svg
Nominee Lindsey Graham Alex Sanders
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 600,010 487,359
Percentage 54.4% 44.2%

South Carolina Senate Election Results by County, 2002.svg
County Results

Graham:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%

Sanders:      40-50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%

U.S. senator before election

Strom Thurmond

Elected U.S. Senator

Lindsey Graham

The 2002 United States Senate election in South Carolina was held on November 5, 2002. Longtime Republican incumbent Strom Thurmond decided to retire at the age of 100, becoming the first centenarian to ever serve in Congress. At that time, Thurmond was the longest serving Senator in U.S. history, but his record was later surpassed by West Virginia's Robert Byrd. Republican U.S. Representative Lindsey Graham won the open seat, becoming the first non-incumbent Republican Senator from South Carolina since Reconstruction, as Thurmond had been elected as a Democrat, but switched parties in 1964. This was the first open Senate election in South Carolina since 1966.

Democratic primary

Alex Sanders, the former president of the College of Charleston, entered the race and faced no opposition from South Carolina Democrats, thereby avoiding a primary election.

Republican primary

Representative Lindsey Graham had no challenge for the Republican nomination and thus avoided a primary election.[1] This was due in large part because the South Carolina Republicans were preoccupied with the gubernatorial race[2] and also because potential rivals were deterred by the huge financial war chest Graham had amassed early in the campaign.[3]

General election


  • Ted Adams (C)
  • Lindsey Graham (R), U.S. Representative
  • Victor Kocher (L)
  • Alex Sanders (D), former President of the College of Charleston


The election campaign between Graham and Sanders pitted ideology against personality. Graham spread his message to the voters that he had a consistent conservative voting record and that his votes in Congress closely matched that of outgoing Senator Strom Thurmond. Sanders claimed that he was best to represent South Carolina in the Senate because he held membership in both the NAACP, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the NRA, and because he said that his positions more closely matched the citizens of the state. He said that he was against the death penalty for religious reasons, supported abortion rights, and was for greater government involvement in education. Graham attacked Sanders for these positions consistently throughout the campaign, but Sanders hit back at Graham for wanting to privatize social security.

Graham scored an impressive victory in the general election and the margin of victory proved that Democrats had little chance of winning an election in the state for a federal position. He achieved his victory because he rolled up strong margins the Upstate and was able to also achieve a majority in the Lowcountry, an area which Sanders had been expected to do well since he hailed from Charleston. However, strong support in the Lowcountry for Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Sanford doomed Sanders chances of running up a margin in the coastal counties.



Source Date Graham (R) Sanders (D)
Zogby International October 11, 2002 [1] 47% 35%
Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research October 13, 2002 [2] 51% 34%
SurveyUSA October 20, 2002 [3] 53% 44%
SurveyUSA October 27, 2002 [4] 49% 48%
Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research October 29, 2002 [5] 53% 36%
SurveyUSA November 4, 2002 [6] 49% 48%


South Carolina U.S. Senate Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Lindsey Graham 600,010 54.4% +1.0%
Democratic Alex Sanders 487,359 44.2% +0.2%
Constitution Ted Adams 8,228 0.7% +0.7%
Libertarian Victor Kocher 6,684 0.6% -0.5%
No party Write-Ins 667 0.1% +0.1%
Majority 112,651 10.2% +0.8%
Turnout 1,102,948 53.9% -10.1%
Republican hold Swing



  1. ^ Randolph, Eleanor. "How to Succeed an Eight-Term Legend in South Carolina". The New York Times Company. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  2. ^ Halbfinger, David M. "THE 2002 ELECTIONS: THE GOVERNOR RACES; G.O.P. May Retain Its Lead in Statehouses". The New York Times Company. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  3. ^ "Rep. Lindsey Graham - South Carolina District 03". The Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  4. ^ "2002 U.S. SENATE RESULTS". Retrieved 17 November 2019.

See also

This page was last edited on 25 October 2020, at 13:39
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