Tuesday, September 26, 2006

South Carolina Governor Race

Race of the Day

September 26, 2006
42 Days Until Election Day

South Carolina Governor

Status: Republican Incumbent
2004 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Likely Republican

Ever since Carroll Campbell left the Governorship, the politics of the Palmetto State has been quite turbulent, as recent years have seen both of the state’s legendary U.S. Senators retire and the defeat of incumbent Governors, one of each party, by narrow margins in the past two Gubernatorial elections. In spite of this volatility, and even though incumbent Republican Governor Mark Sanford, has had problems dealing with people in his own party, he should be expected to win a second term this November by at least a solidly respectable margin.

Over the past four years, Sanford has not been a go along to get along Governor. He has proposed bold reforms on issues such a school reform and has clashed with legislators in both parties. At one point, Sanford even arrived at the State Capitol holding a piglet, to taunt some legislators’ support of pork barrel spending. Some have also viewed Sanford as being more of a fiscally minded libertarian who has not seemed overly concerned with advancing a conservative social agenda, in a state that leans heavily Republican.

While Sanford has been able to maintain reasonably good job approval ratings, he has probably owed those figures more to inroads he has made among independents and some Democrats, rather than rock ribbed support within his own party. The Governor, who was the eventual victor of a multi-candidate GOP primary in 2002, did face a primary challenge this year, by a wealthy physician who had supported Sanford in 2002. While his nomination was never really in much doubt, there was enough of a GOP vote against the Governor in that primary to raise some eyebrows.

The Democrat nominee who emerged victorious in a primary is State Senator Tommy Moore. While Moore is seen as a respectable candidate who will represent his party well, there is little belief that his campaign had anywhere near enough money or support, or the ability to be able to possibly knock off Sanford in a one on one race. Thus, Democrats were giddy when a conservative State Senator announced plans to enter the race as an Independent, upon announcing he believed he would be able to win the race in that way. There was concern though that the candidacy of Jake Knotts would have the effect of splitting the Republican vote and allowing Moore to be much more competitive than he otherwise would be. Republicans were relieved when Knotts quickly announced he had changed his mind and would not run after all.

Polls taken after the primary, and during all the speculation regarding Knotts, indicated that while Sanford was ahead, there were enough undecided voters to make the race appear somewhat competitive. More recently, the Governor has been able to add a few points to his totals in those polls, while Moore’s support has remained stagnant. Sanford, whose job approval ratings also seem to have modestly increased in recent weeks, now appears to have been able to break the 50 percent threshold while Moore struggles to reach 40 percent.

While the Democrat can be expected to receive a good deal of votes from people in both parties who oppose Sanford, he will very likely fall short by a double digit margin on Election Day. In order to come closer to that, Moore will have to find a way to rally the state’s sizable African-American population to turn out and vote in heavy numbers against the Republican incumbent, and there just does not seem to be that much of an energized base committed to defeating Sanford. The Governor has a very pronounced advantage in campaign finances and will be able to once again run as a reformer, who has shook things up in state government, against a longtime Democrat officeholder, who can be portrayed as just another insider.

With South Carolina holding an early 2008 GOP Presidential primary contest, the support of Sanford, who backed John McCain in 2000, could be very influential in helping a Republican Presidential candidate in that state. Then again, among Republicans, Sanford’s backing could cut both ways.

Sanford campaign link:


2006 Governor races predicted thus far: 12 D, 18 R
Post-election total of Governors predicted thus far: 20 D, 24 R

NFL Week 3 Recap

1. Bears (2-0) at Vikings (2-0)- W
2. Packers (0-2) at Lions (0-2)-L
3. Titans (0-2) at Dolphins (0-2)- W
4. Jets (1-1) at Bills (1-1)- L
5. Redskins (0-2) at Texans (0-2)- L
6. Bengals (2-0) at Steelers (1-1)- L
7. Jaguars (2-0) at Colts (2-0)- W
8. Panthers (0-2) at Buccaneers (0-2)- W
9. Ravens (2-0) at Browns (0-2)- W
10. Giants (1-1) at Seahawks (2-0)- L
11. Rams (1-1) at Cardinals (1-1)- L
12. Eagles (1-1) at 49'ers (1-1)- L
13. Broncos (1-1) at Patriots (2-0)- W
14. Falcons (2-0) at Saints (2-0)- W

Week 3 score: 7-7 (50 %)
Overall score: 26-20 (57%)

So far, the macro score is nothing to write home about, but I am basically picking teams based on who I want to win, as much as anything else, and as long as the Bears win, I will remain happy!