COLUMBIA Strom Thurmonds 1964 switch to the Republican Party helped make the GOP in vogue in South Carolina, prompting white conservatives to flock to the Grand Old Party. Now, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, the states first African-American senator, could help expand the party again, attracting minority voters, some conservatives say.
If Scott wins the November contest and then again in 2016, he would become a national symbol for conservative values in the black community, and he will begin to force a realignment of African-American voters with the GOP, said Clemson University professor Dave Woodard, a Republican consultant.
Scotts successes would make it easier for African-Americans who do not agree with the Democratic Partys positions on social issues including abortion and gay marriage to shift to the GOP, Woodard said.
State Senate President Pro Tempore John Courson, R-Richland, said Scotts continued presence as one of 100 U.S. senators would give him automatic credibility and help the GOP appeal to minorities in the state and nationally.
But not everyone thinks a Scott win would result in an exodus of African-Americans to the Republican Party.
Thurmonds transformation of the Southern GOP was pretty dramatic, said Scott Buchanan, a Citadel political scientist. But I dont see the same thing (happening) with Scott.
Thats because even while many African-Americans already agree with the GOP on some social issues, they still do not vote Republican. It hasnt made any difference yet, Buchanan said.