Sunday, Nov. 12, 2006
Carolina voters not as enthused at polls
SC Statehouse Report
12, 2006 - - For all of those news stories about how voter
turnout was strong in Tuesday's statewide elections, here's
a rude awakening: It just didn't happen.
Voter turnout was much less than projected. As many as 200,000
expected voters didn't show up at the polls, according to
an analysis of past trends.
Presbyterian College political scientist Jon Smith projected
1.3 million voters to show up at the polls Tuesday. He based
the calculation on the significant increase in voter registration
over the last four years and because 54 percent of registered
voters cast ballots in the last two mid-year elections.
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In 1998, just under 1.1 million people voted - - a 54. 3
percent turnout. Four years later, some 54.6 of registered
voters (1.1 million) cast ballots. But on Tuesday, the expected
54 percent turnout was down to 44.3 percent. Some 1.08 million
people - - less than in 1998 and 2002 - - cast ballots. So
- Non-competitiveness. Many folks tired of the campaign
season, which seemed particularly nasty and dull at the
same time. At the top of the ticket, Gov. Mark Sanford had
a significant financial advantage, which tended to sap the
sense that Democratic Sen. Tommy Moore had a real shot at
- Weather. Rain poured intermittently throughout
the state on election day. Many voters with dampened spirits
just decided to stay at home.
- Low national interest. Like in 1994, there was
no U.S. Senate candidate at the top of the ticket to really
nationalize the election. But unlike the hotly contested
congressional races in South Carolina a dozen years ago,
only the John Spratt-Ralph Norman contest in the Rock Hill
and Pee Dee areas provided an opportunity for the national
political drama to rear its head.
- Organization. There seemed to be fewer ground forces
out on election day. Unlike years past, things like organized
rides to the polls and phone banks weren't as visible, particularly
among Democratic county parties.
- Minority voting down. Smith noted minority voters
didn't turn out in expected numbers in nine of 11 counties
where they comprise the majority of registered voters. Minority
voters generally underperformed in the "Corridor of
Shame" counties - - Clarendon, Marlboro, Jasper, Hampton,
Marion, Bamberg, Lee, Orangeburg and Williamsburg. Turnout
was about what was expected in Allendale and Fairfield counties
- - the two other counties where minority voters make up
the majority of registered voters. These counties generally
are considered a Democratic base. If Democrats want to win
statewide, they're going to have to get out their base.
Other election thoughts:
- Mandates. Sanford spoke Tuesday night about getting
a mandate for change in his re-election. But is 55 percent
a "mandate?" Most likely, it's just a healthy
win. Almost half the voters still voted against his ideas.
Had he reached landslide status of 60 percent, he might
be able to call it a mandate.
- Camaraderie. Legislative leaders and Sanford seemed
on best of terms during interviews on election night. But
Sanford, who has had a frosty relationship with his GOP-controlled
legislature, will face a real test in January when the General
Assembly convenes. Many believe the sour relationship with
legislators will continue, particularly if he makes a power
grab by using a newly-won control of the state Budget and
Control Board to push changes lawmakers don't want.
- Vouchers. Republicans almost got a sweep of constitutional
offices. If Democrat Jim Rex is able to stay on top to squeak
out victory to become state superintendent of education,
he'll throw a big wrench into Sanfordian plans to push education
vouchers on South Carolinians.
Tuesday's election was what some folks wanted while others
didn't get their wishes. But if you were one of the millions
who stayed home, you won't have much room to complain when
the rascals do what they do.
Send your comments to Andy Brack at email@example.com.
His book of commentary, Bugging
the Palmettos, is available for
here for more.
knows how it feels nationally
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
Here is a perfect example of why it was important for candidates
to say these ten simple words during the election
support equal treatment under the law for all Americans.
Thats all they had to say
and yet most Democratic
candidates in South Carolina didnt have guts enough
to say it.
Eugene Platt is now trailing Wallace Scarborough by 45 votes
in this election. I found 57 gay and lesbian voters on James
Island and Folly Beach in my contacts file who would have
been glad to support Eugene Platt if he had just muttered
those ten simple words. My guess is that they either wrote
in other candidates or did not vote in his race since we were
all aware that Mr. Platt publicly supported second class citizenship
for LGBT people.
Discrimination costs everybody, some sooner than others.
-- Charlie Smith, Charleston, S.C.
needs inspector general, Jock Stender, Charleston,
needs to pay attention to state boards, Patti Bucher,
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