1972 United States Senate election in South Carolina

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.

1972 United States Senate election in South Carolina

← 1966 November 7, 1972 1978 →
  Strom Thurmond 91st Congress.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Strom Thurmond Eugene N. Zeigler
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 415,806 241,056
Percentage 63.3% 36.7%

1972 United States Senate election in South Carolina results map by county.svg
County results

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

Zeigler:      50-59%

U.S. senator before election

Strom Thurmond

Elected U.S. Senator

Strom Thurmond

Democratic primaryEdit

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 primaryEdit

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

General election campaignEdit

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 resultsEdit

South Carolina U.S. Senate Election, 1972
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Strom Thurmond (incumbent) 415,806 63.29% +1.3%
Democratic Eugene N. Zeigler 241,056 36.69% -1.3%
Write-in 172 0.02%
Majority 181,963 27.0% +2.6%
Turnout 674,327 65.2% +16.1%
Republican hold


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "1972 Election Statistics".