by Paul Bowers
The 20 state representatives who voted against removing the Confederate battle flag from Statehouse grounds have a few things in common. They are all Republican. They are all white. And most of them are from the Upstate.
Of the 20 nay votes, 12 came from the Upstate counties of Anderson, Greenville, Spartanburg, and Cherokee. Four came from the Midlands counties of Lexington and Aiken, plus one apiece from York and Chester counties, which have traditionally been called part of the Midlands but are now often classified as part of the Charlotte metropolitan area. Two came from the Grand Strand/Pee Dee county of Horry.
Scott Huffmon, a political science professor at Winthrop University and director of the Winthrop Poll, says he was not surprised by the relatively strong turnout against the bill from Upstate lawmakers.
"The Upstate has the lowest percentage of African-American residents, so many of these folks, they are not going to have a lot of African-American constituents who are influencing them or contacting them," Huffmon says.
According to Huffmon, regional politics may have played a role in the votes as well.
"The Upstate is known for that brand of social, cultural conservatism, whereas the Lowcountry is far more economic conservatism, more of a mix — not that social conservatism is absent and cultural conservatism is absent, but it's just much more visceral in the Upstate," Huffmon says.
The three senators who voted against the bill earlier in the week came from the Upstate counties of Spartanburg, Laurens, and Cherokee.