This is an all-things-to-all-people post.
Those of you who think we’re just another bunch of wild-eyed liberals who only back Democrats, just read this paragraph! I’ve done the count on this year’s endorsements (which you can go read here), and here’s the final count: We endorsed 8 Republicans (John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Joe Wilson, Nikki Haley, Michael Koska, Mike Montgomery, Celestine White Parker and Harry Harmon), 5 Democrats (John Spratt, Jim Clyburn, Nikki Setzler, Anton Gunn and Jim Nelson). And one independent (Elise Partin, in a nonpartisan election for Cayce mayor).
Now, those of you who think we’re that right-wing rag that only endorses Republicans, just read this paragraph! As you may recall, I started keeping score a couple of election cycles ago, and our running total in general elections, from 1994 through 2008, is 60 Democrats, and 54 Republicans, so we’ve endorsed Democrats 53 percent of the time.
As I’ve explained about a gazillion times, party is not a consideration for us. The only reason I know the numbers above is that I got tired of people constantly accusing us of being one or the other, so I went back through all of the general elections since I had joined the editorial board in 1994 (and everyone else currently on the board joined later than that).
Since then, I have kept the count up-to-date. But I only total up the numbers for the current year after we’ve decided all our endorsements. That makes for some pretty lopsided years in which someone might think we were pushing mainly for one party or the other. For instance, in 2006 we endorsed 12 Democrats and only five Republicans.
Here’s the year-by-year breakdown (and here it is on a spreadsheet):
Year Democrats Republicans Independents
1994 10 4 1
1996 2 5
1998 8 11
2000 7 10
2002 9 4
2004 7 7
2006 12 5
2008 5 8 1
TOTALS 60 54 2
Looking back at this, I wonder about the low number of independents, and then I remember that most of our opportunities to endorse nonaligned (or at least NOMINALLY unaligned) candidates have come in Columbia city elections, and these are not counted. I’m just looking at the November elections here. I think that one independent in 1994 was Bubba Cromer.
Have fun trying to find patterns, if you’re so inclined. I notice that, except for 1998, we have a tendency to go for Democrats in years when we elected statewide officials to S.C. government, and Republicans in presidential election years — except for 2004, which was a tie. I’m no statistician, but I sort of doubt that someone who IS a statistician would think a trend that involves only 8 elections and has two exceptions is much of a trend.
You could also compare the time BEFORE I became the editor (when the makeup of the board was quite different) to AFTER (I became editor in 1997), but you don’t get a dramatic difference. In the two elections before I was promoted we went for 12 Democrats and 9 Republicans, since then it’s been 48 Democrats and 45 Republicans — indicating that I have kept it closer to even than previous leadership did! Which of course is also statistically meaningless.
If we were trying to create a trend, it would be to aim for a 50-50 breakdown, so neither party could claim we were biased against them. But we’re not trying, so the results are imperfect.
You know what’s most startling to me? That in all those years, we’ve endorsed only 116 fall candidates. Seems like a lot more. But then, the primaries are always busier than the general.