In South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Bob Inglis is on the rocks. The South Carolina 4th is super-red and super-conservative. It houses Bob Jones University and has a large and politically active evangelical community. The voters appear ready to throw Inglis out: PPP’s survey of South Carolina shows the incumbent trailing Spartanburg solicitor Trey Gowdy 37%-33%.
Since his election, Inglis has frequently upset conservatives on the far right. Inglis was one of only 17 House Republicans to vote to censure fellow South Carolinian, Joe Wilson, after Wilson infamously shouted “you lie” at President Obama in the middle of a nationally televised address to a joint session of Congress. Inglis also very publically supported a revenue neutral carbon tax which opened a gap for Mr. Gowdy to threaten the incumbent’s seat from the right. Inglis has told the Tea Partiers that they needed to “turn off Glenn Beck” and even angered the 4th district’s many church goers when in 2006 he cast the deciding vote in the House Judiciary committee to prevent a bill intended to provide constitutional protection for the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. After Inglis voted against the surge in 2007, the crowd at the Spartanburg County GOP convention booed when he was introduced.
PPP’s survey of the 4th district suggests that Inglis will have to fight to win over voters. 33% of the 4th district’s primary voters told PPP that they believed the Republican party was “too liberal” (vs. 39% of statewide Republicans). While 26% of respondents identify with the Tea Party movement (vs. 29% statewide), 70% said they support the movement’s goals (70% statewide). Perhaps most problematic for Rep. Inglis’ prospects is the fact that 45% of district primary voters surveyed told PPP that they “disapprove of the direction of the Republican Party.”
Inglis could conceivably survive in a runoff due to his relationship with one of his opponents, former State Senator David Thomas. Thomas was fairly late entering the race in part due to his reluctance to run against his friend. In a race that is so close, every vote counts. Thomas represented Greenville County in the Senate for the past 25 years and has strong name recognition throughout the district and could deliver his votes and help sway independents. Either way, Inglis is in trouble and will, barring some anomaly at the voting booth, have to make up ground in a runoff if he is going to hang on to his seat.