This could be a ‘bad’ year for our endorsees

Turning away from the presidential endorsement to the endorsements that we here on the board actually spend more of our staff time on — the state legislative and county races — this may not be a good year for our endorsees.

Now mind you, "not… a good year" is a relative thing. Typically, close to 75 percent of the people we endorse in general elections in South Carolina win. A "bad" year for our endorsees is 50 percent. There is a chance that this year, it may be even lower than that.

I should pause at this point to say, as I always do, that our endorsements aren’t about naming the person we think WILL win, but the person we think SHOULD win. You might say, "Duh!," but the fact is that a lot of people don’t seem to understand that. How else does one explain the people who say, when one of our endorsees loses, that we got it "wrong?"

But that doesn’t keep me from thinking about whether someone is going to win or not. I’m usually conscious of a candidate’s chances as we’re making the decision, and we tend to know when we’re backing a Don Quixote and when we’re not.

But the other day Cindi said something I hadn’t thought of — that we may be backing more losers than winners this time. That was based on the endorsements we had decided on up until that point (we’ve decided some more since then). If so, so be it. That won’t change our decisions. But I thought I’d share the thought with y’all.

Consider the ones we’ve done so far:

  • Jim Nelson — LIKELY TO LOSE — Conventional wisdom heavily favors the incumbent, Chip Huggins, in House District 85. This is the Irmo area, and Rep. Huggins is the Republican. Of course, the Irmese are quirky and can surprise you. Also, a Democrat could benefit from the Obama Effect, which is expected to pull up down-ballot Democrats even though Obama will lose the state himself. But not a Democrat who, like Mr. Nelson, is given to going up to strangers and telling them he thinks his taxes are too low. Not in this district.
  • Michael Koska — LIKELY TO LOSE — There is no incumbent in this race, which should make it more of a toss-up. But Mr. Koska’s opponent in House District 77 is the closest thing you’ll find to an incumbent — Richland County Council Chairman Joe McEachern. Mr. McEachern is a strong candidate whom we’ve endorsed multiple times, including in the primary for this seat. Add to that the fact that Mr. Koska is a little-known white Republican in a district long held by a black Democrat (John Scott), and the usual math of elections in South Carolina runs against him. Mr. Koska has the ability to win over voters who sit down and listen to him at length as we did, but few voters ever do that. No, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Mr. Koska will pull this off, but he would need greater-than-usual help from his national ticket to do so, and that’s just not happening this year.
  • Nikki Haley — ALMOST CERTAIN TO WIN. I could have told you before our interviews that Rep. Haley would hold on to her District 87 House seat. After talking to her and opponent Ed Gomez, it was a dead certainty. Yes, the McCain-Palin ticket may be imploding, but not so much as to deny re-election to this highly engaging Republican incumbent, not in Lexington County.
  • Anton Gunn — DON’T KNOW, although I suspect GUNN HAS THE EDGE — What makes this one uncertain for the better-known and stronger candidate — Mr. Gunn — is that this has been a Republican district. In fact, Democrat Gunn lost to the incumbent, Bill Cotty, two years ago. But Mr. Cotty isn’t running, and the district has been evolving. Most of all in Mr. Gunn’s favor is the fact that if anybody is going to benefit from the Obama Effect, it would be him. He was Obama’s state political director. So I think he has the edge, but it’s just impossible to know without polling info, which I haven’t seen. All we know for sure is that we prefer Mr. Gunn to his opponent, David Herndon.

As always, you can look at all our endorsements from this year (going all the way back to the presidential primaries in January), plus columns related to endorsements, on this Web page.

14 thoughts on “This could be a ‘bad’ year for our endorsees

  1. Doug Ross

    I was very pleasantly surprised that The State endorsed Nikki Haley despite her pro-voucher leanings. There’s hope for you yet! 🙂
    Although, you have yet to retract the claim from your endorsement of Mr. Gunn that the sales tax swap is “strangling fast-growing districts like Richland 2”. Even Mr. Gunn admitted that this is not happening yet — it is a projection for the future based on growth rates that we already know have slowed down dramatically.
    The only really interesting winning percentage The State should look at is in non-incumbent races or races where The State does not endorse the incumbent. Incumbents win at a far higher percentage.
    An endorsement of Lindsey Graham should not be factored into a winning percentage.

  2. somebody

    Navel gazing! I learned a new phrase today!
    Men will never know navel gazing as we women who have birthed babies because your navels will always be in the same shape your whole lives. You will never have a cleaner, more preened navel than the one you’ll sport @ about 8 1/2 months. The innies come out for their season in the sun!

    Endorsementville is exhausting — time for a little diversion.

  3. david

    Hey, I’m a product of the fifties, sixties and seventies. The total self involvement, self contemplation and self worship we indulged in back then was nicely summed up by some wag as “navel gazing.” The term was appropriate then, and seems to fit this tangential and sort of weird preoccupation with the success rate of editorial endorsements of political figures.
    The endorsements themselves seemed unimportant and didn’t interest me. The secondary issue of how well the endorsements actually do is really kind of odd. Uninteresting and odd.
    But it is what newspapers do I suppose. By the way…somebody…are you miffed that men have it easier than women when it comes to reproduction, or are you just making an observation?

  4. somebody

    No! I’d never be miffed about having this seasonal opportunity. Just sharing. I feel a new cause coming on…navel gazing may be a useful thing to ask someone to do. You know — like on Mother’s Day, every single person blessed with eyes could contemplate their navel and appreciate life a bit more, and the mothers that saw to getting them here. The cause will probably go a tad more political (aka annoying).
    Endorsements are only great in so far as I agree with them.
    I like the Nikki Haley endorsement, but I can’t let anybody know. Because my support of anybody around Lexington County would be the kiss of death for that person — and people would avoid them like the plague!

  5. David

    I was in the US Navy for a twenty-plus year career. Whenever I got enough seniority that I actually had sailors working for me and under my charge, one of the things that I pointed out regularly when I counselled them was that they should write or call their moms.
    To me, this was not simply a nice thing to do, but I consiered that it was a primary thing necessary to a sailors’ mental health and well being.
    And I found that except in rare and toxic family situations, it was.

  6. somebody

    P.S. If Barack really gazed at his navel for 400+ pages, then there is hope that we can weed his garden of ideologies regarding abortion.
    Yes. Barack will get my first fruits of attention in my new cause. [Lucky him :)] He is a good son too, you know!!!
    It really is sad that his momma won’t be able to be here for this. What an overachiever, eh?!? And she probably always knew he would be.

  7. Bill C.

    All that free airtime that Anton Gunn gets by being on Awareness on WIS won’t hurt him either. David Herndon needs to contact WIS and tell them he wants equal air time.

  8. Bill C.

    All that free airtime that Anton Gunn gets by being on Awareness on WIS won’t hurt him either. David Herndon needs to contact WIS and tell them he wants equal air time.


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