Is Columbia, South Carolina a Liberal City?

Like most Southern US States, South Carolina is conservative and votes Republican in nearly every election. However, some of the state’s larger cities such as Columbia and Charleston are beginning to have more liberal views. Columbia, for example, has a highly Democratic voting trend, despite the state’s Republican majority.

Columbia has a large majority of voters supporting Democratic and liberal views. The city, however, cannot compare to the strength of liberal convictions in areas more highly concentrated with liberalists, and remains fairly conservative in comparison to these larger scale areas.

In terms of southern states, Columbia is rather liberal in their views. This scale, however, is much smaller and the city remains rather conservative by any larger standard of what makes a city truly “liberal”.

What Views are Liberal?

Liberals work for a strong and involved government that attends to the needs of all of its citizens. Conservatives, on the other hand, value a less-involved government and the provision of personal freedom and liberties for individuals, granting them the power to solve their own issues.

Conservatives believe in strong religious values, while liberalists work to keep religion and politics completely separated. Without these religious values, liberalists support legal abortions, physician-assisted suicide, embryotic research, and same-sex marriage. These are highly opposed by conservatives who promote bans on abortion, physician-assisted suicide, and embryonic research. Conservatives also believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and many oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Generally, liberalists promote higher taxes on the rich, market system economy, limiting the use of fossil fuels, eco-friendly power resources, LGBTQ marriages, legal abortions, universal health care for the nation, and strict gun laws keeping arms in the hands of law enforcement and away from citizens. The more conservative views value lower taxes, keeping guns available to citizens, pro-life efforts stopping abortions, religious views, free market economy, and traditional family settings.

Columbia, South Carolina embodies an intriguing variety of values from both sides of the political scale. They keep a large number of conservative opinions on rising issues, but are beginning to lean liberal on other hot topics in the political battles of the day. This leaves Columbia as one of the states most liberal cities, by a South Carolina standard of the term.

Voting Trends & Financial Contributions

In voting trends, Columbia has a strong liberal lean for some time now. The county has voted Democratic in every election since 2000! In the last Presidential election, an overwhelming 68.4% of voters supported the Democratic candidate, while only 30.1% voted Republican, and 1.5% voted independent. This was no close call in favor of the liberalists, the most recent election shows a strong Democratic hold on the majority of the city. Especially in the red state of South Carolina, this is an incredible occurrence.

To show a more divided city, the financial contributions of Columbia accurately depict a nearly even political split in the residents. During a four year period from 2018-2021, a total of $2,540,393 in donations were made to Democratic and liberal campaigns in the area. Republican and conservative opponents, however, received only a couple hundred dollars less. Over the same four year span, they earned a total of $2,248,628 in financial contributions.

While the voting ballots paint a highly liberal population of blue, financial donations and other aspects of the city’s behavior shows that Columbia residents are not as quick to abandon their red South Carolina beliefs as one may think.

Religious Community

Like most of the bible belt, a high percentage of Columbia residents are religious. Most statistics record at least 50.2% of Columbia residents as religious. This is half of the city’s population. The state of South Carolina has 78% of residents recorded as religious.

Columbia citizens belong to religions such as Baptist, Lutheran, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Catholic, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, and Christians of another or no denomination.

When driving through Columbia, there are churches on nearly every corner. There are a large number of chapels and places of worship for a variety of religious beliefs and congregations.

There are several Hindu temples for worship in the city. Columbia also has a temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The high percentage of religious residents support these existing religious buildings, and promote the construction of more as well.

I have also seen several free bible stands or other religious activities throughout the city being offered. Most churches hold activities on Sundays and throughout the week for their congregations that are generally open to the public.

The religious population in Columbia is likely a main contributor to some of the city’s surviving conservative views. Republicans base a large number of their opinions and stances on their background and foundational core values, and prefer to keep religion as an influence in every part of their life: including political decisions.


There are several organizations in the city that support pro-choice views on the legalization of abortion. Two organizations, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and The Women’s Right and Empowerment Network, planned a protest against two anti-abortion bills being supported by the state Senate. The protest was held in February of 2022 and drew a hundred people with posters promoting the legalization of abortion.

Other Women’s March events are currently being advertised and planned in Columbia to continue the protest of anti-abortion laws within the state.

For such a high religious population, it is interesting for Columbia to have such strong views supporting the legalization of abortions. Senator Kimbrell commented on the abortion views of the state.

“I do believe the majority of voters in South Carolina subscribe to a pro-life ethic though.”

Josh Kimbrell, South Carolina Senator

The State of South Carolina currently allows abortions up to 20 weeks, but a pending US Senate decision may overturn the Roe vs. Wade case, and send a wave of energy through the country and allowing individual states to ban abortion within their borders.

If overturned, the state of South Carolina would have a fetal heartbeat law activated by November of 2022. This law would prohibit abortion in the majority of cases where a fetal heartbeat is detected. The detection of a fetal heartbeat usually occurs at around six weeks into the pregnancy.

Another bill was recently approved by the South Carolina State House. The bill now requires doctors to inform all women seeking abortion treatments of a method that can be used to reverse the procedure. This method is currently unproven and unsupported by a large group of the scientific community.

While the state of South Carolina fights to ban abortion completely, many citizens in Columbia actively oppose the action. Protestors and other groups and organizations in the city continue to rally for the legalization of abortion in the state and fight against these newly proposed and enforced laws for the pro-life campaign.

Elected Government Officials

The current mayor of Columbia is Daniel Rickenmann. Columbia’s mayoral elections are non-partisan, but Rickenmann is affiliated with the Republican party. The previous office-holder was Democrat Stephen K. Benjamin, who endorsed Rickermann’s opposing candidate: Tameika Isaac Devine. Rickermann defeated Devine despite the endorsement and affiliation with the Democratic party, taking 52% of the votes and leaving Devine with a close 48%.

Democrats took the victory for Stephen King’s election, but he did not run for reelection. His endorsed democratic candidate ended the liberal win. The election of Republican Daniel Rickermann shows that the city is still fairly divided in terms of political party views.

Gun Laws

The State of South Carolina has weak gun laws in comparison to other US States: a clear sign of the state’s conservative views. South Carolina requires all persons carrying a concealed firearm to first obtain a permit. However, there is no state requirement for background checks on the purchase of a handgun.

An estimated 49.4% of South Carolina residents reported having at least one firearm in their home. In 2011, there were 119, 205 licenses issued in the state.

Liberal views support strict gun laws, hoping to keep guns out of citizen possession and in the hands of law enforcement officers almost exclusively. Weak gun laws and high percentages of gun ownership are a sign of more conservative views in terms of the topic. Conservatives work to protect American rights to bear arms.

LGBTQ Community

Columbia has a variety of pride events for LGBTQ support. Some of the largest events include: the President’s Ball Gala, Famously Hot South Carolina Pride Parade, SC LGBT Pride Kickoff, and Pride Outfest in Columbia. These events show support for the LGBTQ community. The majority of pride events are held in the state capital: Columbia.

Same-sex marriage was legalized in the state of South Carolina on November 20, 2014. Liberalists are supporters of same-sex marriage and LGTBQ rights. Conservatives generally feel that marriage should be between a man and a woman, largely based on their religious morals and beliefs. High LGBTQ support in an area is often a strong sign that liberal views are also high or growing there.

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