Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 17, 2014

South Carolina Special a Photo Finish?

With the special election in South Carolina just one day away, both Republicans and Democrats are unsure of the outcome.

Former Palmetto State Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican, began with a narrow advantage over Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, but even Republicans pulling for Sanford believe that he has failed to run the strong race he needed to in order to hold onto the reliably GOP seat.

When Sanford’s ex-wife’s complained that he trespassed at her home, many observers believed that it was the beginning of the end for the former governor, even given the Republican nature of the district.

But Sanford did not throw in the towel, and Democrats are nervous about whether his efforts during the campaign’s final weeks to make the race into a referendum on Colbert Busch, and on her ties to organized labor, has turned the contest toward the Republican.

Recent polling has shown everything from an even race to a narrow Colbert Busch advantage. A May 4-5 poll by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, for example, showed Sanford at 47 percent and Colbert Busch at 46 percent. But, as one Republican observed, “I have to believe that the anti-Sanford voters are more motivated than the pro-Sanford voters,” and many Republicans seem to be assuming that their nominee will go down to defeat.

When the results are in Tuesday night, the spinning will begin. But while the contest has received plenty of national attention, it now appears that the outcome will be largely devoid of significance.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has kept arm’s length from the race, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the House Majority PAC have invested heavily in the contest. Given the uniqueness of this special election, it’s hard to see why either a Sanford victory or a Colbert Busch win would mean much – or anything – for 2014.

Obviously, Democrats would hate to lose the election after investing so heavily in it. But their failure to defeat Sanford wouldn’t say anything about their ability to win Democratic-leaning or swing districts next year.

The Rothenberg Political Report still has the race as a Toss-up/Tilting to the Democrat, but any outcome is possible. Don’t be shocked at the result, no matter who wins. (Our ratings are here.)

  • Bob Flanagan

    I
    think what the national press missed in this election is the changed
    nature of the district. Since Mark represented the district in the past
    this district has been eat up with well educated, well to do Yankees.
    There are hundreds of thousands of new voters
    in the retirement, beach and golf communities from Hilton Head Island
    up to the Isle of Palms. If you look at the vote totals from these
    precincts this election is a total repudiation of the hopey changey
    socialism of Washington. These folks are unhappy with the cuts to
    Medicare. These are people who have watched their savings and
    investments eroded by the Feds policies and the redistribution of wealth
    being carried out by the White House. What you missed hanging out with
    the Democrat handlers is that the people in our district are mad as
    hell. That’s why this election was not even close even though the
    Journolistas in the national media did their best to protect a woman
    with no experience, a thin resume backed by the unions who tried to
    chase Boeing out of the area with nothing to say but bitching and
    yammering like a sore tailed dog about Mark’s love life. The electorate
    here are more of a cross section of voters from across the country.
    Those newcomers voted for Mark by overwhelming margins. In Beaufort
    County, where Mark struggled in statewide races, he received a 5,000
    vote margin in precincts made up of newcomers. He ran up big margins in
    Kiawah, and the Isle of Palms. The fast growing areas of north
    Charleston and in the counties surrounding the new Boeing plant went big
    for Mark. These are not folks who grew up on tales of their great
    fathers and Rebel yells. These are people who repudiated the government
    in Washington today. It wasn’t even close despite the Democrats spending $1 million and a maximum effort.

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