1978 United States Senate election in South Carolina

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1978 United States Senate election in South Carolina

← 1972 November 7, 1978 1984 →
  Strom Thurmond.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Strom Thurmond Charles D. Ravenel
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 351,733 281,119
Percentage 55.6% 44.4%

South Carolina Senate Election Results by County, 1978.svg
Results by county

Thurmond:      50-59%      60-69%      70-79%

Ravenel:      50-59%

U.S. senator before election

Strom Thurmond

Elected U.S. Senator

Strom Thurmond

The 1978 South Carolina United States Senate election was held on November 7, 1978 to select the U.S. Senator from the state of South Carolina. Popular incumbent Republican Senator Strom Thurmond defeated Democratic challenger Charles D. Ravenel.

Democratic primary[edit]

The South Carolina Democratic Party held their primary for governor on June 13, 1978. Charles D. Ravenel, an unsuccessful candidate in the 1974 gubernatorial contest, originally planned to run for governor again in 1978, but was convinced by Vice President Walter Mondale in 1977 to run for senator. He garnered over 50% of the vote in the primary and avoided a runoff election.

Democratic Primary
Candidate Votes %
Charles D. Ravenel 205,348 55.9%
John Bolt Culbertson 69,184 18.9%
Tom Triplett 50,957 13.9%
Tom McElveen 41,550 11.3%

Republican primary[edit]

Senator Strom Thurmond faced no opposition from South Carolina Republicans and avoided a primary election.

General election campaign[edit]

Thurmond generally ignored Ravenel on the campaign and refused to debate him. When they did cross paths, Thurmond criticized Ravenel for never having held a political office. Ravenel did not help his cause by his actions in the 1974 gubernatorial race when he refused to endorse the Democratic nominee after he had been disqualified. This irritated many Democrats and they also accused him of being nothing more than a liberal New Yorker. Age was beginning to become an issue with Thurmond, so to combat perceptions of old age, Thurmond often appeared with his children on the campaign trail. While 1978 was generally a Democratic year, Thurmond was able to pull off a commanding victory over Ravenel.

Election results[edit]

1978 South Carolina U.S. Senate Election[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Strom Thurmond (incumbent) 351,733 55.6% -7.9%
Democratic Charles D. Ravenel 281,119 44.4% +7.9%
No party Write-Ins 257 0.0% 0.0%
Majority 70,614 11.2% -15.8%
Turnout 633,109 57.7% -7.5%
Republican hold

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Clerk of the United States House of Representatives (1979). "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 1978" (PDF). U.S. Government Printing Office.
  • Bass, Jack; Marilyn W. Thompson (1998). Ol' Strom: An Unauthorized Biography of Strom Thurmond. Longstreet. pp. 290–292.
  • State Election Commission (1979). Report of the South Carolina State Election Commission. Columbia, SC: State Election Commission. p. 54.
  • "Challenging a Southern Legend". Time. October 16, 1978. Retrieved February 9, 2008.