I’m doing a number of interviews these days. I was interviewed by Canadian public radio yesterday, and taped a segment for Jeff Greenfield’s show on PBS (to air Friday). Then I had a couple of beers last night with E.J. Dionne. This morning, before I left the house, I spoke with Tom Finneran (former speaker of the Massachusetts House) on his Boston radio show.
When I got in, I was interviewed by email, which is a twist. Karin Henriksson of the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet asked me two questions:
– how has the dynamics in the state changed compared to four years ago (I was here then, too)?– what would surprise you the most on Saturday night after the votes are counted?
Here’s how I answered:
Question 1: This is the complicated one. After 2008, the GOP in South Carolina — and elsewhere as well, but I know SC best — was traumatized. Sen. Jim DeMint and others on the right said the party had lost the White House because, in nominating McCain, it had failed to be right-wing enough. This was the start of DeMint’s rise as a national power on the far right of the party. Then, in 2010, Nikki Haley — a small-time back-bencher — rode a populist, Tea Party, Sarah Palin-flavored tsunami right over more establishment Republicans to become governor. Ever since then, observers — and the GOP itself — have been left to wonder what it means to be Republican in this state. As 2011 arrived, many of the Republicans who usually backed the winner in SC lined up behind Jon Huntsman, while others went to Rick Perry. Almost none of them backed Romney. And throughout the last few months, we saw the GOP electorate bounce from Perry to Cain to Gingrich, and then, reluctantly, start to settle for Romney.
So… while the electorate that will vote Saturday is different from four years ago, it is expected to do what it usually does: Back the closest thing to an Establishment candidate, the candidate whose turn it is.
Question 2: What would surprise me most? A win by Rick Perry. Which is ironic, since several months ago he looked like the perfect candidate for South Carolina, like he was assembled according to a South Carolina recipe. But now he’s farther from the nomination than anyone still in it.
So what do y’all think? What would surprise you the most?