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2004 United States Senate election in South Carolina

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2004 United States Senate election in South Carolina

← 1998 November 2, 2004 2010 →
Jim DeMint headshot.jpg
Inez Tenenbaum.jpg
Nominee Jim DeMint Inez Tenenbaum
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 857,167 704,384
Percentage 53.7% 44.1%

South Carolina Senate Election Results by County, 2004.svg
County Results

DeMint:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%

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

U.S. senator before election

Fritz Hollings

Elected U.S. Senator

Jim DeMint

The 2004 United States Senate election in South Carolina was held on November 2, 2004. Longtime incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings retired, and Republican U.S. Representative Jim DeMint won the open seat. DeMint was the first Republican to hold this Senate seat since Reconstruction.

Democratic primary


  • Ben Frasier, former congressional aide
  • Inez Tenenbaum, South Carolina Superintendent of Education


2004 South Carolina U.S. Senate Democratic primary election[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Inez Tenenbaum 126,720 75.5%
Democratic Ben Frasier 41,070 24.5%

Republican primary



The Senate election two years earlier in 2002 did not have a primary election because the South Carolina Republicans were more preoccupied with the gubernatorial contest, despite having the first open senate seat in 40 years. The retirement of Democratic Senator Fritz Hollings gave the Republicans an opportunity to pick up the seat and with no other interesting positions up for election in 2004, a crowded field developed in the Republican primary. Furthermore, the Republicans were motivated by having President Bush at the top of the ticket enabling them to ride his coattails to victory.

Former Governor David Beasley, from the Pee Dee, entered the race and quickly emerged as the frontrunner because of his support from the evangelical voters. However, during his term as governor from 1994 to 1998 he had greatly angered the electorate by proposing to remove the Confederate Naval Jack from the dome of the statehouse and by being against the adoption of a state lottery to provide for college scholarships. Both positions led to the loss of his re-election in 1998 and the issues continued to trouble him in the Senate race.

The battle for second place in the primary was between Upstate congressman, Jim DeMint, and Charleston developer Thomas Ravenel. DeMint was able to squeak out a second-place finish because Charlie Condon, a former Attorney General of South Carolina, split the Lowcountry vote with Ravenel thus providing DeMint the margin he needed. In addition, while many voters were attracted to the Ravenel campaign and felt that he had a future in politics, they believed that he should set his sights on a less high-profile office first before trying to become senator. Resigned to defeat, Ravenel endorsed DeMint in the runoff election.

In the runoff election on June 22, 2004, DeMint scored a surprising victory over Beasley. Ravenel's endorsement of DeMint proved crucial as the Lowcountry counties heavily went for the Representative from the Upstate. Also, Beasley had burnt too many bridges while governor and was unable to increase his share of the vote in the runoff.


Republican Primary
Candidate Votes %
David Beasley 107,847 36.6%
Jim DeMint 77,567 26.3%
Thomas Ravenel 73,167 24.8%
Charlie Condon 27,694 9.4%
Mark McBride 6,479 2.2%
Orly Benny Davis 1,915 0.7%
Republican Primary Runoff
Candidate Votes % ±%
Jim DeMint 154,644 59.2% +32.9%
David Beasley 106,480 40.8% +4.2%

General election




  • Tee Ferguson (United Citizens)
  • Efia Nwangaza (Green)
  • Rebekah E. Sutherland (Libertarian)
  • Patrick Tyndall (Constitution)


DeMint entered the general election campaign severely weakened from the primary fight, having spent most of his campaign funds. He stressed to the voters that he would follow conservative principles and provide an important Republican vote in the closely divided Senate. Democrats fared poorly in statewide elections in South Carolina, so Tenenbaum tried to make the race about issues rather than party identification. She attacked DeMint's support of the FairTax proposal because it would increase the sales tax by 23%. The election victory by DeMint merely cemented South Carolina's shift to the Republican column as the best candidate the Democrats could offer was soundly defeated by the typical 10 point margin.


Source Date DeMint (R) Tenenbaum (D)
SurveyUSA August 18, 2004 [1] 52% 39%
Harrison-Hickman September 9, 2004 [2] 44% 41%
SurveyUSA September 21, 2004 [3] 51% 39%
GSG September 29, 2004 [4] 43% 46%
Mason-Dixon September 29, 2004 [5] 50% 38%
McLaughlin September 30, 2004 [6] 46% 36%
Rasmussen Reports October 6, 2004 [7] 49% 43%
SurveyUSA October 12, 2004 [8] 46% 43%
Mason-Dixon October 20, 2004 [9] 47% 43%
SurveyUSA October 24, 2004 [10] 52% 39%
McLaughlin October 28, 2004 [11] 48% 40%


South Carolina U.S. Senate Election, 2004
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Jim DeMint 857,167 53.6% +7.9%
Democratic Inez Tenenbaum 704,384 44.1% −8.6%
Constitution Patrick Tyndall 13,464 0.8% +0.8%
Libertarian Rebekah E. Sutherland 10,678 0.7% −0.9%
United Citizens Party Tee Ferguson 5,859 0.4% +0.4%
Green Efia Nwangaza* 4,245 0.3% +0.3%
No party Write-Ins 1,286 0.1% +0.1%
Majority 152,783 9.5% +2.5%
Turnout 1,597,221 69.0% +16.2%
Republican gain from Democratic
*Nwangaza ran under the Independence Party in Aiken and Calhoun counties; her totals are combined.

See also


  1. ^ OFFICIAL ELECTION RESULTS FOR UNITED STATES SENATE (2004). p. 72. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
  2. ^ (dead link).
  3. ^ "MCBRIDE ON CAMPAIGN TRAIL". January 7, 2003.. fee required.
This page was last edited on 27 March 2021, at 11:38
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