1972 United States Senate election in South Carolina

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United States Senate election in South Carolina, 1972

← 1966 November 7, 1972 1978 →
  Strom Thurmond 91st Congress.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Strom Thurmond Eugene N. Zeigler
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 428,145 246,182
Percentage 63.5% 36.5%

South Carolina Senate Election Results by County, 1972.svg
Results by county

Thurmond:      50-59%      60-69%      70-79%

Zeigler:      50-59%

Senator before election

Strom Thurmond

Elected Senator

Strom Thurmond

The 1972 South Carolina United States Senate election was held on November 7, 1972 to select the U.S. Senator from the state of South Carolina. Popular incumbent Republican Senator Strom Thurmond easily defeated Democratic challenger Eugene N. Zeigler.

Democratic Primary[edit]

The South Carolina Democratic Party held their primary for governor on August 29, 1972. Eugene N. Zeigler, a state senator from Florence, defeated John Bolt Culbertson to become the Democratic nominee in the general election.

Democratic Primary
Candidate Votes %
Eugene N. Zeigler 201,170 58.7%
John Bolt Culbertson 141,757 41.3%

Republican Primary[edit]

Senator Strom Thurmond faced no opposition from South Carolina Republicans and avoided a primary election.

General election campaign[edit]

The general election campaign was a lackluster affair as Thurmond was heavily favored to win re-election and he outspent Zeigler by a margin of four to one. However, Thurmond's re-election was almost derailed when his hometown newspaper, the Edgefield Advertiser, ran the headline "SEN. THURMOND IS UNPRINCIPLED WITH COLORED OFFSPRING WHILE PARADING AS A DEVOUT SEGREGATIONIST" on the October 11 front page; the Thurmond campaign fiercely denied that he had sired a black child and claimed that it was a dirty trick being played by the Zeigler campaign. While the allegation ultimately proved true, at the time it served to galvanize voters for Thurmond.

Election results[edit]

South Carolina U.S. Senate Election, 1972
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Strom Thurmond 428,145 63.5% +1.3%
Democratic Eugene N. Zeigler 246,182 36.5% -1.3%
Majority 181,963 27.0% +2.6%
Turnout 674,327 65.2% +16.1%
Republican hold

See also[edit]


  • Bass, Jack; Marilyn W. Thompson (2005). Strom: The Complicated Personal and Political Life of Strom Thurmond. PublicAffairs. pp. 267–270.
  • State Election Commission (1973). Report of the South Carolina State Election Commission. Columbia, SC: State Election Commission. p. 572.