Analysis: South Carolina 1
Nancy Mace got elected as a moderate but is dining with the Freedom Caucus now. Why?
At 45, Nancy Mace(SC01) is only nine months older than me. As one of the youngest Republican voices in the House, she distinguished herself early in her first term by saying publicly and with enthusiasm that the Party had to move on from Donald Trump, and that she was working toward a party of moderates that cooperates with the opposition to make and pass legislation.
Trump won her district in 2016 by 14 points. That narrowed to 6 points in 2020, when Mace herself was elected, unseating incumbent Democrat Joe Cunningham, who himself won his seat by his fingernails in the blue wave of 2018. South Carolina-One has been in play for some time, and has seen Katie Arrington, a Trump-endorsed candidate, fail to get across the finish line in both 2018 and 2022. Trump endorsed Mace in 2020, but appeared to sour on her after she spoke out against a GOP future in which he figured prominently.
I say this because SC01, from all indications, is far from a lock for any candidate, though its generic electoral makeup does appear to favor Republicans, usually by single-digits. They're just not overly fond of the former President, and in this district, his endorsement is not the golden ticket it is in many other districts.
Nancy Mace was elected as a moderate, in what appears to be a moderate district. But in recent months, she has executed a political about-face, embracing extremists like Jim Jordan(OH04), and finding herself allied with characters like Matt Gaetz(FL01) and Marjorie Taylor Greene(GA14). More recently, she's been positioning herself in a more and more exposed posture, appearing on the floor of the House in a made-for-TV ensemble: a t-shirt that leaves little to the imagination, with a large red letter "A" on it-- a misplaced reference to Hawthorne's Hester Prynne --explaining to the assembled media that she is on the side of the people, not the establishment, in response to a claim nobody made.
Mace does not as of now have a serious primary challenge, and it could be that the alliance with far-right extremists in the House could simply be a feint, to prevent a primary challenge from a Trump-enthusiast like Arrington again, and save herself money to face a much more serious challenge in the general election from businessman Michael Moore(no relation) or attorney Mac DeFord.
I personally think Mace is relying on the general tendency of MAGA voters to have the memory of a goldfish, pretending now to be working for them to avoid a primary challenge. After the June 11th primary, I think Nancy Mace will magically transform back into a moderate, and also try to bury her previous opposition to abortion rights.
As things are now, SC01 is going to be a district to watch in 2024. I will definitely revisit this district as the primary and general elections draw closer.