Monday, May 6, 2013

Democrats and South Carolina - a Lowcountry Match made in Tea Party activism

Over at the Fix this morning, Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan try to make the case that a Win by former Gov. Mark Sanford (R, Tea Party Branch) in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District tomorrow is NOT a loss for Democrats.  Their premise is that if Elizabeth Colbert-Busch wins the seat, the carrying costs for Democrats will simply be too high to sustain that victory in 2014, so why bother acquiring now what will be handed back later?

Much as I respect that opinion, I think they are wrong for three key reasons:

  1. First, while Mark Sanford is damaged good politically, he had to run to the far, Tea Party delirious right to even make it out of the primary ( which counted no less the 16 Republicans in contention). He also lost the support of the RNCC when he confessed to violating the court order keeping him out of his ex-wife's house, to say nothing of the embarrassment he caused his sons by introducing them to their future step mom at his victory party last month.  This means that, if he has what it takes to be nominated in the this District on the Right, Democrats won't have that hard a fight on their hands in 2 years.
  2. Second, a win is a win is a win.  Democrats are supposedly drowning themselves in lethargy and "malaise" these days over President Obama's "lack luster" first 100 days (of his second term).  Both Salon and the WaPo have carried numerous example stories of this.  So Democrats need a win at something to help start their rally - why not in a House race that puts a Democrat in office under Sen. Lindsey Graham's nose?
  3. Third, and perhaps most importantly. Colbert- Busch isn't running as the extreme left of center Socialist that President is still being made out to be by many of those same pundits.  Her ads in South Carolina since the primary win have been focused on her business chops and her roots and connections in the Lowcountry, not on Obamacare, or immigration, or any other issue that can be marginally linked to Democrats.  In short, she's running as a pragmatic centrist (sort of like the President actually) without invoking anything Obama has said or done. Compared to the other Republican offerings, I think if she votes the way she's running, the purple First District will be very willing to see her returned to office.
So Cillizza and Sullivan may be right - we'll know tomorrow - but the evidence and the real long term strategy would be better served if they were wrong.

1 comment:

Philip H. said...

Well looks like I was wrong. I'll see what the exit polling has to say, but I am pretty sure the demographics will point to a light turnout heavily skewed to Republicans generally and Tea Party Activists specifically. Democrats need to learn how to fire up the base and sustain that fire over long periods of time. If they don't, then 2014 and beyond will be much tougher then I currently think they are.