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I explore the challenges that Democratic candidates have in winning state legislative elections in the South. Using exit polls of South Carolina State House 81 and 84 in 2018, I find that the districts were overwhelmingly Republican in composition, but for different reasons. In the 81st this was due to compliance with the Voting Rights Act placing Black voters in a neighboring majority-minority district and in the 84th this was due to the greater racial polarization of voters due to racial threat. Partisanship matters because the vast majority of voters in the districts report the candidates’ partisanship as an important factor in their vote for State House. This importance increases among voters with lower access to information. The findings demonstrate the role that racial threat and the perverse effects of redistricting play in advantaging the GOP in the South. Overall, state legislative races in the region remain uncompetitive largely as a result of the interplay between race, party, place and institutions.

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