While South Carolina saw a spike in new voter registrations ahead of Wednesday’s deadline, that may not be enough to change its ranking as one of the nation’s least politically engaged states.
The website Wallet Hub ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia on voter participation and found South Carolina had some of the lowest rankings. The Palmetto State finished 40th in the standings, released Thursday.
Wallet Hub looked at the percentage of registered voters in each state before the 2016 presidential election, the percentage of the electorate who voted in 2014 and 2016, the change in voter participation between 2012 and 2016, and total political contributions per adult in a state’s population. In that last category, South Carolina, a poor state, finished dead last.
The only states with overall worse levels of political participation than South Carolina were Texas, South Dakota, Kentucky, New York, West Virginia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Indiana, Alabama, Hawaii and New Mexico.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The State
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the nation’s capital had the highest ranking for political engagement. The District of Columbia ranked on top in Wallet Hub’s study with an overall score of 79 out of a possible 100. South Carolina’s score was 34.5
The most politically engaged state was Maine, followed by Utah, Maryland, Washington and Wyoming.
South Carolina’s education woes may play into its low levels of political engagement.
When ranked against other factors, the same study charts South Carolina as the 37th least educated state. West Virginia ranked at the bottom, while D.C. came out on top again, followed by Massachusetts.
South Carolina also trails in its state gross domestic product — or GDP — per resident, ranking 46th, Wallet Hub found. Mississippi is last, while D.C. again was first, followed by Massachusetts.
Not all of South Carolina’s numbers were bad, however.
When correlated with “tax fairness,” South Carolina and some other states with lower rankings poll better. South Carolina is third in that ranking behind only Montana and Oregon. But both score much higher in political engagement — 8th and 12th, respectively.
Two age groups exceeded South Carolina’s average in political engagement — the state’s youngest and oldest voters. Among those age 18 to 24, South Carolina had the 18th most engaged residents in the nation. Among those over 65, the Palmetto State ranked 25th.
Haley jokes about Warren’s Indian heritage at dinner
Former S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley — the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations until the end of the year, when her resignation takes effect — waded into a controversy over a senator’s heritage last week — by poking fun at her own.
While speaking to the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York Thursday, Haley told the crowd that organizers had “wanted an Indian woman (as speaker), but Elizabeth Warren failed her DNA test.”
In response to President Donald Trump’s mocking of her claims of American Indian heritage, U.S. Sen. Warren, D-Mass., announced the results of a DNA test last week showing “strong evidence” of Native American heritage within her family’s last six to 10 generations.
In the past, Warren has claimed to be part Cherokee, garnering criticism that she played up a thin claim to minority status to advance her academic career.
President Donald Trump, in particular, has taken to mocking Warren, giving her the nickname “Pocahontas” in speeches.
The South Carolina-born Haley, meanwhile, is the daughter of immigrants from the Punjab region of India. But that hasn’t stopped some from confusing her Indian heritage with Native Americans — including, she joked, the president.
“Actually, when the president found out that I was Indian-American, he asked me if I was from the same tribe as Elizabeth Warren,” Haley told the New York fundraiser.
Trump previously had pledged to donate $1 million to charity if Warren could prove a Native American connection. But he dismissed that bet Monday after the DNA results were released, telling reporters at the White House, “Who cares?”
Haley made more jokes at the Smith dinner, as reported by CNN.
▪ “People always wonder if I felt different or isolated as an Indian-American growing up in rural South Carolina. Actually, there was a benefit. It totally prepared me for being a Republican in New York.”
▪ “I do have diplomatic immunity ... an exemption from prosecution or, as (New York) Mayor (Bill) de Blasio calls it, a sanctuary city!”
▪ “People ask me all the time what they should call me — governor, ambassador, Nikki. You can call me anything. Just don’t call me ‘anonymous,’ ” a reference to an op-ed piece criticizing the president by an anonymous Trump staffer.