May 21, 2024
As the country inches closer toward Election Day, voters are homing in on issues that may decide the fate of Congress and several state governments in November.

As the country inches closer toward Election Day, voters are homing in on issues that may decide the fate of Congress and several state governments in November.

The Washington Examiner is tracking which issues are on the top of voters’ minds as they prepare to head to the polls, particularly in key battleground states that could bring a shift in power to the federal government. Specifically, we’re tracking how voters are researching our top five issues — abortion, crime, education, inflation, and taxes — and how these interests fluctuate as we get closer to Election Day.


Below, you can track the interest in South Carolina in each of our key issues on a rolling 30-day basis. The Washington Examiner will be updating this page as interests and voting concerns change.

Key races we’re watching: 

South Carolina has a Senate race and a handful of key House races that both Democrats and Republicans have kept their eyes on, as victories in the state could help determine which party takes control of Congress in November.

The Senate contest is one of the top races on the ticket as Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) seeks to defend his seat against Democratic challenger state Rep. Krystle Matthews, which is likely to lean in Scott’s favor. The race has gained some attention after state Democrats called on their nominee to quit her campaign after reports of leaked audio that showed Matthews disparaging her constituents.

The state party called on Matthews to quit after she was caught talking about white voters within her district, saying, “I keep them right here — like under my thumbs. … Otherwise, they get out of control — like kids.”

Elsewhere on the ballot, eyes are on the governor’s race as Republican Henry McMaster seeks reelection, gearing him up for the chance to become the longest-serving governor in the state’s history. He is set to face Democratic nominee Joe Cunningham.


Education emerged as the top-researched issue among South Carolina voters early in September and remained the No. 1 priority for the duration of the month, according to internet searches recorded and analyzed by Google Trends.

Searches related to education spiked several times over the last month, mirroring nationwide trends that saw the issue receive renewed interest in August and September — likely coinciding with the beginning of the school year. Other spikes in interest may be due in part to the announcement of President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program on Aug. 24.


Crime held steady as one of the top issues among South Carolina voters in September, alternating as No. 2 and No. 3 throughout the month.

Crime has emerged as a top voter priority nationwide, with 60% of voters saying violent crime is a “very important” issue, ranking behind only the economy and gun policy, which are not included in the Washington Examiner’s analysis.

Republicans have sought to paint Democrats as too “soft on crime” throughout the midterm cycle, and the GOP may have an advantage because it is typically considered better at handling crime, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll from April. That is a shift from previous sentiments that both parties are capable of handling crime.


Taxes emerged as another top issue among South Carolina voters, seeing renewed interest on Sept. 15 and recording a number of spikes during the last two weeks of September. The issue came in at No. 2 as of Sept. 29.

Internet searches related to taxes spiked twice, on Sept. 13 and 26, in tandem with education searches, likely having to do with Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan providing relief to up to 43 million borrowers. The forgiveness plan described parameters for who would be eligible for student loan cancellation, noting borrowers will need to earn under $125,000 individually or $250,000 as a household.

The rise in tax-related internet searches in relation to student loan forgiveness comes after some states announced that borrowers may be taxed. South Carolina is one of the few states to announce a change in the federal tax code exempting borrowers from paying taxes on their loan forgiveness.


Abortion remained a low-researched issue among South Carolina voters over the last month, coming in at No. 4 as of Oct. 1.

Search terms related to abortion spiked on Sept. 26, coinciding with reports that state lawmakers failed to pass legislation that would establish a total ban on the procedure in the state. Current law in South Carolina bans abortion after 20 weeks, but state Republicans have sought to implement a full ban after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this summer.


Inflation remained one of the lowest-searched topics throughout the month of September, receiving a spike in interest on Sept. 13 and 21 before falling back to No. 5 as of Sept. 25.


Inflation rates slightly decreased over the last month, with August prices rising 8.3% compared to the year before, noted a report from the consumer price index released on Sept. 13. The numbers were higher than expected but still a decline from July’s numbers, which showed an 8.5% increase.

Republicans have long focused on inflation as a key voter concern in the midterm election cycle, pointing to soaring inflation rates under Biden. However, inflation has become less of a concern after the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, offering Democrats relief and posing a challenge to Republicans as they formulate new strategies.

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