Mark Sanford may have won, but there are signs that South Carolina is starting to crack under the weight of its own stupid:
Mitt Romney won the 1st by 18 points in 2012. Sanford carried the seat with more than 60 percent in each of his gubernatorial campaigns. The district hasn’t been represented by a Democrat since the early 1970s. This was not a fair-fight sort of seat. A generic Republican would start any race against a generic Democrat with a clear edge. Sanford is obviously not a generic Republican – truer words were never typed — but he got enough (actually, plenty) of the district’s GOPers to turn out for him. Did some of them hold their nose while voting for him? Sure. But they still voted for him. And they all count the same.
In a special election, turnout tends to be low, which tends to favor Republicans.
Think about that for a moment: a district Mitt Romney carried by 18 points, favorite son Mark Sanford only carried by 9.
Now factor in that in 2008, the Republican, Inc. incumbent very nearly lost the seat when Barack Obama carried the district with 54 percent of the vote, the first time a Democratic presidential candidate has won the heavily-gerrymandered district since 1976.
It was a tough race to win for Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, and she did yeoman work in her attempt. But I want to point out something the press seems to be ignoring, except to paint Colbert-Busch as incompetent: she held a double digit lead as late as last week, and on Monday, the race was a dead heat.
So how does Sanford pull off a twenty point swing in the electorate?
Keep in mind that South Carolina is a state where Republican dirty tricks have seen Alvin Greene, a man so stupid he believes Neil Diamond is a soul singer, nominated to face the Republican Senatorial candidate. Greene won 60% of the primary votes, despite having a felony charge hanging over his head and never meeting with local county officials or even bothering to campaign.
Put it this way: in 88 of South Carolina’s districts in 2010, the total votes awarded to Alvin Greene and the other candidates only equal the total number of votes cast in 2 of them.
We’re winning. We just don’t know it yet.