July 11, 2004
NOTE: The mainstream media finally woke up yesterday
and Courier, 7/10) to the story we broke two weeks
ago on how the Palmetto Bowl might be in trouble because
of the Confederate flag flying on the Statehouse grounds.
on ticket, Kerry could win
SC Statehouse Report
11, 2004 - - All it takes for any Democratic presidential
candidate these days to win is to take two Southern states.
It can be any two, but without at least some wins in the South,
the Democrat will lose every time.
Republicans know this. For years, Democrats seemed to treat
the South as a stepchild - - even when Southerners Bill Clinton
and Al Gore topped the ticket in the 1990s. It's more evident
in Gore's 2000 campaign when he didn't even win his home state
of Tennessee. (If he had, he'd be president, despite the results
Unlike many Democrats sitting in leadership positions in
Washington, it looks like presidential contender John Kerry
has figured out the South is a key to victory. Instead of
ceding it to Republicans, he picked strong campaigner John
Edwards to be his running mate.
wins by state
the 11 Southern states)
As one South Carolina Republican analyst said this week,
Kerry's pick of Edwards shows he's "got his eye on the
Starting in the late 1960s, Richard Nixon mounted an offensive,
called the "Southern strategy" to win the nation's
top job by splitting up the Solid South, which had been Democratic
territory for years.
As U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. explained in a November 2003
article in The Nation, "Republicans have successfully
exploited race (in proportion to black voting strength) since
Richard Nixon's 'Southern strategy' of 1968 by, among other
things, using racial code words: Nixon's 'law and order,'
Reagan's 'state's rights' and 'welfare queen,' and the first
George Bush's 'Willie Horton.'"
It mostly worked. Republicans swept the South in 1972. Democrat
Jimmy Carter, who paid attention to his roots, won every state
except Virginia in 1976. The tables flipped in 1980 when Republican
Ronald Reagan won every state in the South except Carter's
In 1984 and 1988, Republicans won every Southern state. In
1992, Democrat Bill Clinton carried Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky,
Louisiana and Tennessee. Four years later, he also carried
Florida, but lost Georgia.
WORLD: Taking the temperature
Winners and losers of the past week
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In 2000, George W. Bush won all Southern states, but only
by slim margins in Florida (a few hundred votes), Arkansas
(51 percent), Tennessee (51 percent) and Louisiana (52 percent).
So with Kerry picking Edwards, more focus is being put on
the South, particularly in states where Democrats have shown
they can win - - Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana and Florida.
And with Edwards being from North Carolina, polls show the
Tarheel State is a dead heat. If Kerry wins any two of these,
he likely will win the big prize.
What it means for President Bush is that he'll have to work
harder in the South and, potentially, to divert resources
from battleground states to hold onto his lead. If that happens,
it could spell doom for the sitting president. (We hear Bush
already is buying ads in North Carolina. The last time a Democratic
presidential candidate won there was 1976.)
A good indicator about how Bush is doing will be whether
he campaigns in South Carolina - - a rock-solid Bush state.
If he comes here, it may show how concerned the campaign is
about keeping power.
For Kerry, the upside of picking Edwards is that he's a proven
vote-getter in the South and he appeals to white, working-class
male voters, who generally are thought to be "owned"
by the GOP.
But there's a downside too. Because Edwards is a trial lawyer,
business forces - - notably the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -
- plan to come out with all guns blazing to raise money to
While that may seem like a viable threat, Kerry has shown
he can raise money too. And at some point, there are only
so many TV ads candidates can buy.
Look for the 2004 election to be hot, heavy and filled with
rhetorical invective. It won't be a pretty piece of American
history - - but elections rarely are.
7/11: Taking the temperature
This week's cartoon by our Bill McLemore:
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SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Tenenbaum. While SC likely will be won by President
Bush in the fall, the big winner of the week was Inez Tenenbaum,
whose U.S. Senate campaign likely will benefit from John Edwards
being on the Democratic ticket.
Gregory, Knotts. Hats off to Republican S.C. Sens.
Greg Gregory and Jakie Knotts for calling for a SLED investigation
of a contract award for voting machines by the State Election
DHEC. It's good news the state agency will try to
broker a deal between business and environmental interests
to protect isolated wetlands.
Sanford. Publicity stunts (Gov. Sanford moving into
the pool house at the mansion while it is cleaned for mold)
are running thin.
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