South Carolina is now an electoral outlier

On Monday, Bobby Harrell was talking about taking legislative steps to try to ensure South Carolina’s status as the first-in-the-South presidential primary (for both parties, not just the GOP).

But nine days earlier, SC GOP primary voters opted to undermine the best excuse for the Republican national committee, at least, to give South Carolina precedence. For the first time since 1980, they went out of their way to support a candidate who would NOT be the eventual nominee.

So why should anyone care what South Carolina thinks four years from now?

I, for one, will miss all the attention when it drifts away. I like it when the world is paying attention to us for something other than making jackasses of ourselves. I like the buzz. I like South Carolinians having a chance to affect grand events. And yes, I enjoy doing the national and international media interviews. Most importantly, who’s going to pay for me to take a mid-winter break in Key West when nobody cares any more what SC thinks?

I certainly wish my fellow SC voters had taken a moment to think about these things before they capriciously wasted their votes on Newt Gingrich on Jan. 21. But no, they were intent on throwing it all away.

For a moment there, it did look as though Floridians would accept the SC judgment as an early clue to the new direction, but then they woke up and said to themselves, “Wait a minute… this is Newt Gingrich! And we’re not South Carolina. We don’t go off on wild hairs, firing on Fort Sumter and voting for bombastic egoists…”

And they settled down and did what South Carolina usually settles down and does, but didn’t this time: Picked the safe choice, the obvious choice, the guy whose turn it is. They put Mitt Romney back on his inevitability path, and did so decisively.

And already out there, they’re forgetting South Carolina. I can feel it… The next time they pay attention to us, it will be Jon Stewart making fun of us again. And in the unlikely event that Mitt Romney is elected president, he’ll feel less grateful to South Carolina than Barack Obama does (the incumbent at least had an important primary victory here).

We’re drifting… drifting… into irrelevance…


35 thoughts on “South Carolina is now an electoral outlier

  1. bud

    We’re drifting… drifting… into irrelevance…

    Can’t happen fast enough for me. The Republicans in South Carolina bought into the big lies of the conservative movement that suggests the media is liberal, that welfare is the cause of the federal deficit and that someone with all the baggage of a Newt Gingrich can actually make them wealthier. Why on earth these “conservative” themes continue to resonate so in South Carolina defies logic. Sort of like the poor dirt farmers who took up arms to defend slavery. Made no sense then and looks really ludicrious now. But that’s who South Carolinians are. Go figure.

  2. Tim

    The primaries should be put into a system something like five Super Tuesdays of ten states, spread out from January to May. States would be selected randomly each election cycle, or alphabetically/reverse alphabetically. The current system is just stupid.

  3. Karen McLeod

    There are probably good reasons why your idea isn’t a good one, Tim, but I can’t think of one. It sounds so much saner to me, and spreads the campaigning madness over a wider target area making it harder to saturate any one state or group.

  4. `Kathryn Fenner

    They still made fun of us–I mean Newt Gingrich? Seriously?

    I guess I am coming to accept that the legislative priorities in this ever-so needy state are 1. being first in the South for the primaries, 2. fighting losing battles with the feds, and 3. creating a South Carolina Medal of Honor. Anything else would just be governing, and we can’t have that!

  5. Phillip

    A lot of assumptions here. First of all, you’re assuming that there is no way Gingrich will be the nominee. OK, fair enough, that’s probably a pretty safe bet, unless some outrageous scandal envelops Romney. But the assumption of impending irrelevance is jumping the gun, I think: other early primary and caucus states (Iowa and New Hampshire) have famously picked candidates who did NOT go on to win the nomination, and certainly attention is still being paid to them today. If SC remains the first or one of the first Southern primaries, it will not be considered immediately irrelevant just because the GOP here may have finally not picked the eventual nominee.

    But the biggest assumption of all?
    “I like it when the world is paying attention to us for something other than making jackasses of ourselves.” Look, the SC GOP’s choice even when it DID pick the eventual winner was STILL an example of the state “making a jackass” of itself. I give you the example of the George W. Bush primary win over John McCain in 2000.

  6. Brad

    Yes, that was awful — I bore the wounds from that for eight years — but at least it was made respectable by the fact that he was the eventual nominee. The primary voters in other states had months in which to rebuke us, but did not.

    But this time, Gingrich comes here and waves the bloody shirt, and ancestral impulses rose up in the hearts of white males across our state, and an anomaly was born.

    And yes, I was going to put in the obligatory “Gingrich still COULD be the eventual nominee,” but it seems increasingly unlikely. And any time I predict anything, it’s with the big, fact caveat, “But anything could happen.”

  7. Mark Stewart

    So rubber stamping the “safe” choice who’s time it is to be ordained is the higher minded program than to say to the nation the erstwhile leader isn’t ready and this other guy did a far better job campaigning here? To me, it is much more important that SC primary voters gave careful consideration to the candidates.

    Romney still has major flaws. More than the frontrunner ought to have. That’s a problem for the entire Republican party. SC gave Newt a chance to remake himself. It’s not our fault he couldn’t (it appears) capitalize on that opportunity.

  8. bud

    Coming out of South Carolina Romney had an 85% chance of being the nominee. Now it’s up to 95%. But that 5% is still out there.

    Romney – 1-8
    Newt 10-1
    Santorum 20-1
    Paul 25-1

  9. Kevin

    This is an odd post…you are against the over-bearing influence of parties on the political process, and you believe that every voter (regardless of affiliation) should be able to vote in a party’s primary (because closed primaries only disenfranchise voters…..but then you also believe that voters should be thinking about the best interests of the party structure and how to keep the SCGOP in good graces with the RNC when deciding who to give their vote to? This all sounds very un-UnParty-like.

  10. Brad

    No, I don’t. I think everyone should vote for whomever they think is the best, or least bad, candidate.

    I’m just lamenting the way this could turn out for SC…

  11. Juan Caruso

    “I’m just lamenting the way this could turn out for SC…” – Brad

    From the general tenor of comments above, it is difficult to believe many of you plan to retire in the “Outlier” State.

    Where would you rather retire (you may name a foreign country), if you had your wish?

  12. Steven Davis

    I’d like to know where bud comes up with these odds, are they Las Vegas odds or coming from the voices in his head.

  13. Ralph Hightower

    South Carolina became an aberration with the election of Governot Nikki Haley. With the extremists in control now, we will be less relevant in the future.

  14. Mab

    So Brad, are you ready to “defend” that vote you didn’t want to have to defend? Why vote for someone if you can’t or won’t defend it?


  15. Joanne

    “I like it when the world is paying attention to us for something other than making jackasses of ourselves.”-Oops we did it again…

  16. Mab

    Brad — I now firmly believe that was a paid puff piece of over-the-top rhetoric. You HATE Mitt Romney!

    I bought it (and was INSPIRED and energized by it) the first time I read it, but upon further reflection, and especially when Michael Rogers’ decoy comment was IMMEDIATELY posted, it lost its credibility, its heart and its soul. Busted.

  17. Mab

    [this comment, print it or don’t — it really matters not to the reading public]

    BTW — it’s OK to hate evil people. In fact, the Scriptures admonish us to. But Mitt Romney is not evil. The redneck Nazis (Donnie Myers and his mentor Dick Harpootlian, et. al.) who are gunning for Newt Gingrich ARE evil.

  18. Brad

    I wish. To my great disappointment, I didn’t get any ads from campaigns in the recent madness.

    I DID get some advocacy adverts from independent groups, however. You may have seen them — from AARP and the Sierra Club.

    Normally, I’d get all huffy at your suggestion that I would do something so grotesquely unethical. Back in the days when there was such a thing as newspapers, it would have been an occasion for demanding satisfaction — from another gentleman, at least.

    But since I hear that there ARE certain blogs out there that do exactly what you’re suggesting — well, I suppose we all get tarred with that same brush. Such is life out here in the new Wild West.

    Oh, and I don’t HATE Mitt Romney. In fact, I have a post in mind (haven’t written it yet) why I feel, to a much lesser extent, about Romney the way I did about Obama in 2008. In 2008, I very much liked both major party nominees. And while I regretted that my choice, John McCain, had to lose, I was pleased that Barack Obama won. If you can follow that. Basically, I liked both, was sad for one, happy for the other (we independents sometimes have to explain such concepts multiple times, so excuse me for repeating).

    This time, I wouldn’t say I LIKE Romney, but I don’t think it would be some sort of disaster if he were elected. So I would be said to see Obama lose, but there likely would be no rending of garments on my part. As things stand now.

    I’ll explain further when I get around to writing that post.

  19. Brad

    And how was that a puff piece? I was obviously less than enthusiastic. Most of the piece was about why Newt would be disastrous — all of which is perfectly true.

    Only in the last three grafs did I address Mitt at all, and I presented him as just barely tolerable:

    “Now, as for Mitt Romney — well, I can’t give you a ringing endorsement. About the only thing I can say I like about him is that he is not an ideologue. That’s what the most partisan Republicans — the one’s flocking to Gingrich — don’t like about him. They call him a flip-flopper. That’s because he is a manager, a turn-around artist. His goal would be to run the country well and efficiently, not to enact grand ideological schemes. That’s not enough to make anyone’s heart go pitter-pat, but it’s something. And it beats tearing the country apart.

    “Read The State’s endorsement. It gives good reasons why Romney is the best — or at least the least bad — option, now that Huntsman is out of it. Read Cindi Scoppe’s accompanying column, as well. The headline on the endorsement is, ‘Romney has capacity to build bridges.’ I think he does.

    “But at this point, Mitt Romney is more than the ‘least-bad’ option. He’s the one guy who can stop Newt Gingrich. Newt Gingrich not only has the power to blow bridges up; he can’t wait to plant the charges.”

  20. Steve Gordy

    Compared to Newt, Mitt seems positively statesmanlike. ‘Tis a pity that there’s nothing that can make him likeable. The next time he opens his mouth to lambaste Obama for not creating jobs, someone needs to ask him how he’s putting his nine-figure net worth to use.

  21. Silence

    I wonder why you didn’t get any ads? How many unique visitors do you get in a month? I’m not running for anything, but I might just take one out for fun. Maybe candidate Runyan will advertise on your blog, that is, if it’s OK with the Mayor…

  22. bud

    Steven, the odds are a combination of “voices” and an evaluation of polls, trends, money, endorsements and other stuff I consider relevant. It’s mostly just for fun and shouldn’t be taken seriously. For those of you who have bet huge sums of money on my odds, in the words of Rick Perry, oops. I should have provided this disclaimer earliers

  23. Brad

    Juan, you mean the one about where to retire? I thought that was aimed at other people. This is my home. I have no interest in going anywhere else, except to visit.

    I have five children and four (soon to be five) grandchildren, all in South Carolina. Why would I go anywhere else, unless forced to?

    Why would you ask ME such a question?

  24. Brad

    Silence: Multiple reasons. The first is that I didn’t even approach most of the campaigns until the last week, and then in a half-hearted manner.

    I pestered the Huntsman campaign over a period of months, because I actively WANTED an ad from them. I prefer ads that I can feel good about, whenever possible. For instance, I am happy to endorse Yesterday’s, AT&T and Palmetto Citizens — I’m a satisfied patron of all three.

    I started out just wanting to sell ads, without regard to what I thought about the candidates. (The first ads I sold were during the last city election, and I had a number of ads from competing candidates at the same time.) That worked fine for me, until the gubernatorial race of 2010. I realized that I didn’t want to have anything to do with advancing Nikki Haley’s candidacy in any way, shape or form. So I didn’t even approach her. I briefly had an ad from the Sheheen campaign.

    Since then, I’ve been ambivalent on the point. On the presidential primary, I only approached Huntsman until he got out of it. Then I thought, this is ridiculous; there’s money to be had. I approached, directly or indirectly, the Romney, Santorum and Obama campaigns (on the last, I was inspired by the heavy advertising Obama did on the Des Moines Register site at the time of the Iowa caucuses).

    I got polite replies from all, but no bites. Mind you, I didn’t talk directly to any actual decision-makers. These were half-hearted approaches. Meanwhile, at that same time, the Sierra Club approached ME wanting an ad for the last three days.

    I’m greatly hobbled as an ad salesman. I greatly feel the potential conflict of interest, but I haven’t been able to find a salesperson who has the contacts and confidence, who could give me that arm’s-length distance. So I have this sort of half-arsed approach that goes, “and if you want an ad or anything, let me know.” Yes, I can be more direct than that, but sometimes it’s just that diffident.

    Oh, and on Huntsman — he hired staff here early on, but then turned away from South Carolina, spending almost nothing on advertising here. Which was frustrating for the people in his campaign here…

  25. Brad

    As for the upcoming city election — I did pretty well with that last time around. We’ll see how it goes this time.

    One of my problems with the presidential campaigns was that I knew people with most of them, but the people making ad decisions generally didn’t know me.

  26. Brad

    And Bud, there’s a guy named Vito who placed some bets based on your odds several months ago. Is it OK if I give him your home address? 😉

  27. `Kathryn Fenner

    I despise the heat of summer here, and prefer more winter. I might retire near my brother who lives in Philadelphia. On the other hand, moving away when you retire removes you from all the connections you’ve made living in a place. My grandparents moved from Buffalo, NY to Daytona Beach, and my grandfather died shortly thereafter. My grandmother lived on for another thirty-plus lonely years, too stubborn to even move to almost equally snow-free Aiken.

  28. Ralph Hightower

    On the GasBuddy web site, where I was reading news articles and replying to posts, I got sick and tired of seeing SC Governot Nikki Haley’s mug shot on GasBuddy’s website “Haley Stands Behind Mitt”. I got so annoyed at seeing her face, I started clicking on the ads without the slighest inclination to make a campaign donation. I hear that’s commonly called “click fraud” where advertisers have to pay per click.

  29. Silence

    @ Kathryn – I’d like to retire somewhere with a little more seasonality myself. Oh, and also no state income tax. Maybe I’ll go back to East Tennessee.


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