Why AP called Rep. Nancy Mace the winner in the South Carolina U.S. House Republican primary

FILE - Rep. Nancy Mace, walks to join other members of the House Oversight Committee, Dec. 13, 2023, at the Capitol in Washington. Three Republican incumbent U.S. House members in South Carolina are facing primary challengers in 2024, including Mace, who is seeking a third term with the backing of Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace’s Republican primary victory in South Carolina on Tuesday was powered by a strong performance in vote-rich Charleston County, as well as in two key counties she lost in her 2022 primary bid, according to an Associated Press analysis of initial vote results.

Mace’s reelection battle has drawn attention from national Republican leaders in part for her role in ousting Rep. Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House in 2023.

Here’s a look at how the AP determined Mace would avoid a runoff and win her party’s nomination for another term in Congress:

U.S. House, South Carolina’s 1st District (R)

CANDIDATES: Mace, Catherine Templeton, William Young


CALLED AT: 8:40 p.m. ET


ABOUT THE RACE: Mace is running for a third term in this district based in the state’s Lowcountry along the Atlantic coastline near Charleston. In 2023, she was one of eight U.S. House Republicans to break with the party in the vote to remove McCarthy. Since then, the former speaker has thrown the weight of his political operation and fundraising prowess against the defectors and has backed their primary challengers, including Templeton, who previously served as director of the state’s labor agency under then-Gov. Nikki Haley. Templeton’s supporters included former Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson of the nearby 2nd Congressional District. Mace had the backing of former President Donald Trump and current Speaker Mike Johnson.

WHY AP CALLED THE RACE: Mace took an early lead after polls closed among votes cast before election day, which typically are the first votes to be counted. In particular, she had a sizable lead in her home county of Berkeley, as well as in Dorchester and Jasper counties, all of which she lost in her 2022 primary, and in Charleston County, which was her best-performing area two years ago.

As the vote counting continued, Mace maintained her leads in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester, while Templeton took the lead in Jasper, which is the smallest jurisdiction in the district, contributing fewer than 900 votes in the 2022 primary. Mace’s share of the vote in Berkeley and Dorchester outperformed her 2022 primary vote share in those counties by more than 10 percentage points.

The last county to report results was Beaufort. The initial results there had Mace ahead of Templeton but with less than 50% of the vote, slightly behind the pace of her 2022 primary performance.

At the time the AP declared her the winner, Mace’s share of the districtwide vote was at about 58% with just under a third of the estimated vote counted, putting her beyond the risk of dipping below the 50% mark and forcing a runoff. By comparison, she won her 2022 primary with 53% of the vote. Mace was ahead of Templeton among both pre-election day advance votes as well as among votes cast on election day. She had a bigger lead among votes cast on election day, which would only help maintain or build her lead as more election day votes are tabulated.

Templeton was at about 31% of the vote at the time the AP called the race. With Young siphoning off about 14% percent of the vote, Templeton would have needed to beat Mace among votes yet to be tallied by about 15 percentage points, an unrealistic goal given her vote share.