S.C. Statehouse Report
Sunday, Nov. 4, 2007
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/07.1104.prez.htm

South Carolinians mirroring national parties on issues
By Andy Brack, Publisher

NOV. 4, 2007 - - Perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of the new Winthrop/ETV political poll is how South Carolina's partisans mirror national opinions.

Throughout October, researchers phoned more than 1,500 registered voters, almost 500 of whom were not included in final results because they weren't identified as likely voters in the 2008 presidential primaries. Either they were members of other parties, were independents or weren't sure they would even vote. In other words, about a third of those contacted identified as Republicans, a third as Democrats and a third as something else - - the three-way split that most political observers say is the true reflection of the electorate as a whole.


If you'd like to read the latest Winthrop/ ETV poll, click here.

Those who completed interviews - - 522 likely GOP primary voters and 534 likely Democratic primary voters - - tended to include more true believers of their political parties, noted Winthrop pollster Scott Huffmon.

"The hard core partisans are mirroring the national party lines in these issues on things in ways you wouldn't see with weaker partisans and moderates in the sample," he said.

With South Carolinians often priding themselves on independence, stubbornness and taking a different path, it was a little surprising how likely voters here so strongly reflected national attitudes.


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For example, when asked whether they approved or disapproved on how President Bush was performing, 62 percent of Republicans approved along with 8 percent of Democrats. Mirroring national figures, though, some 88 percent of Democrats - seven out of eight -- disapproved (along with 23 percent of Republicans.)

Similar partisan splits were in opinions on the war in Iraq. Two in three Republicans, but only 10 percent of Democrats, said the war made the country safer. Some 78 percent of Democrats and 22 percent of Republicans said it created additional security threats.

Finally, key issues of importance among likely Democratic primary voters in South Carolina were similar to people across the country: Iraq war (30.8 percent), health care (24.8) and the economy (8.3). Among GOP primary voters, top issues were more spread out, but indicated a vastly different mindset: Illegal immigration (18.2 percent), Iraq (16.4), economy (8.4), security/terrorism (7.8) and health care (7.6).

Now, let's look at the poll's horse race results where Fred Thompson was narrowly ahead of Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani among Republicans while Hillary Clinton remained on top in the Democratic field. For better or worse, here are our observations:


Among likely Republican voters in SC:

More: Winthrop/ETV poll.

Thompson. While Thompson hasn't been in the race long, the more the former senator from Tennessee opens his mouth, the more votes he seems to lose. He also seems to be the laziest candidate in the race, judging by his seeming lack of enthusiasm. By the time the GOP primary comes along, he'll be trailing.

Romney. After hiring some of the smartest and meanest SC consultants and spending jillions of dollars, Romney is the one to watch in South Carolina. While some are spouting that the Mormon former governor isn't a "real Christian," his views were good enough for Bob Jones III in Greenville.

Giuliani. New York's former mayor does well as "Captain America" when talking about September 11, terrorism and security. But his personal life story isn't as attractive, which may be why his poll numbers are dropping some in South Carolina.

John McCain. The Arizona senator who got burned by the Bushies in 2000 is back to his former "straight talk" self, but his time seems to have passed.


Among likely Democratic voters in SC:

H. Clinton
More: Winthrop/ETV poll.

Clinton. Short of putting a big foot in her mouth, Clinton seems to be on a roll in South Carolina. But now that other candidates are attacking her "electability" in November, her solid lead may wither in the important next three months.

Obama. The freshman senator from Illinois has a great statewide campaign organization, but he's not really connecting yet. He'd better start drawing blood soon and stop seeming like a professor or South Carolina won't be his breakthrough state.

John Edwards. The South Carolina native who won here four years ago had less than 10 percent of Democratic primary voters, a sure sign that he's fading here like elsewhere.

Undecided. Almost 30 percent of voters on both sides were undecided. They'll be the deciders.

Prognostication: It's a little early to step out on a limb, but look for a Clinton-Bill Richardson ticket for Democrats and a Romney-led GOP ticket to have a national congressional leader as a running mate.

Andy Brack, publisher of Statehouse Report, can be reached at: brack@statehousereport.com.

Recent commentary

SC once known as the Iodine State

The chemical element iodine derives its name from the violet color of its gaseous form. A rare element (sixty-second in global abundance), it occurs naturally as a trace chemical in certain soils, rocks, seawater, plants, and animals. In humans, it is largely found in the thyroid gland, which secretes iodine-bearing hormones responsible for regulating metabolism. A deficiency of iodine causes an unsightly swelling of the neck and jaw known as a goiter.


SC Statehouse Report has partnered with USC Press to provide readers with an interesting weekly historical excerpt about the state. Each excerpt, which is used with permission and not for republication, is taken from The South Carolina Encyclopedia, a 1,077-page book published in 2006 with entries by almost 600 contributors and edited by noted historian Walter Edgar. We hope you enjoy this new feature.

In the late 1920s, the South Carolina Natural Resources Commission began a public relations campaign to advertise the high iodine levels found in fruits and vegetables grown in the state. Even South Carolina milk was promoted as containing extraordinarily high levels of iodine. Promotional tracts sought to expand the national market for South Carolina produce by warning midwestern and west coast residents of the consequences of iodine deficiency in the young, including enlarged thyroids, mental and physical birth defects, and even sterility. The campaign placed the motto “Iodine” on South Carolina automobile license plates in 1930, then expanded the phrase in subsequent years to “The Iodine State” and “The Iodine Products State.” Columbia radio station WIS took its call letters to promote the “Wonderful Iodine State.” Even Lowcountry moonshiners around Hell Hole Swamp jumped on the iodine bandwagon, advertising their brand of liquid corn with the slogan: “Not a Goiter in a Gallon.”

Despite the promotional gimmicks, South Carolina agriculture saw little benefit from the iodine campaign. With the advent of iodized salt in the 1940s, Americans had a convenient dietary supplement and demand for foods high in iodine content declined.

-- Entry by R.T. Oliver, The South Carolina Encyclopedia

lighter side
Choosing the news

Another great cartoon by Bill McLemore:

10/31: Brack makes scary assumptions

To Statehouse Report:

I read your article in the CRBJ and found it to be interesting. You sure do make a ton of assumptions and underestimate the power of the people with their own money back in their pocket.

Guys like you scare the crap out of me. Government, whether State or Federal, has never spent money in an appropriate manner. Politicians care about one thing: Getting re-elected. When the government runs a surplus, you know something is wrong. It is should always be a balanced budget or in the hole. It is not their money. It is ours.

I think folks forget that on a regular basis. Maybe you should offer more of your pay check as sign of good faith to the boys in the Statehouse. Start the trend. Just 2 pennies from a pool guy and small business man.

-- Michael Greer, Summerville, SC

10/30: Not removed on all grocery taxes

To Statehouse Report:

Please - Not grocery taxes but unprepared food taxes (that can be procured by food stamps). There is a difference -

-- Bob Henderson, North Charleston, SC

NOTE: Mr. Henderson is referring to a sentence in this commentary.

10/28: More money won't help schools

To Statehouse Report:

School Districts get 7.5% of all their funds from owner occupied homes. This means your house taxes would have to go up at least 12 times more than your 2006 tax bill. All property taxes collected make up 37.5% of the Districts total funds. The other 62.5% comes from State, Federal and other sources.The School Boards are crying wolf about owner occuped [sic] homes because the operating cost on these homes are less than 7.5% .

Examples: Lexington One has 18,682 Students; they spend $8,920.00 per student, with an average SAT score of 1060. Richland One has 24,593 Students, spends $16,257.00 per student and a average SAT score of 960.

How does your district preform? [sic] All these figures come from the South Carolina Dept. of Education,s website.

It would be fair if the State board of Education required all student's and Teacher's to random drug tests . That way it would insure no drug's in school period. It would make sports and teaching much safer and productive and one less excuse in the State for being last in Education

The conclusion is that more money does not improve education--it starts in the home at a very early age. Until the lower scoring schools takes the blame off of the teachers, funding and what ever other excuse they can come up with. Nothing will ever change.

-- David Whetsell, Lexington, SC

NOTE: Mr. Whetsell is responding to this commentary.

10/26: Venture program will have positive impact

To Statehouse Report:

In response to your recent commentary, I wanted to point out that the South Carolina Venture Capital Investment Authority will not negatively impact the tax collection for state government next year. You are correct in that the program was created using $50 million in state tax credits but they have not been exercised. Instead, the Venture Capital Authority Board borrowed the $50 million using the potential tax credits as collateral. Our board does not anticipate these tax credits being used in the next couple of budget years – if ever. The program’s intent is that the monies committed to venture capital firms will help create good jobs as they are invested in South Carolina companies. If that happens, the program will not only have a positive impact on our economy, but ultimately also have a positive impact on state government revenues in this and future budget years.

-- Chad Walldorf, chairman, South Carolina Venture Capital Authority, Mount Pleasant, SC

Recent feedback

10/24: Leadership needed to strengthen state, Roxanne Walker, Greenville, SC
Solar power makes sense, Barbara Measter, Seabrook Island, SC
Not for tax breaks, Bob Logan, Little River, SC
State needs affordable medical help, birth control, Roxanne Walker, Greenville, SC
Some good points in sex Ed column, Anne Badgley, Charleston, SC
Why insurance companies want to cancel policies, Dan Norfleet, Summerville, SC
Australia is tip of iceberg, John P. Ford, Sumter, SC


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Looking at GEAR report
By Bill Davis, editor
Exclusive from the paid-subscriber issue of Statehouse Report

NOV. 2, 2007 -- When the GEAR report was unveiled over the summer, it was hailed as a way to revolutionize how state government does business or as another governor-backed swipe at the legislature.

But with the report promising to save the state $500 million over the next three years, it behooved legislators at least to give the report a chance. They did. They read the 97-page Government Efficiency and Accountability Review. And while many were intrigued with the cost savings, some still had problems with its tone and intent.

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AVAILABLE NOW: Furman University's Don Gordon has great things to say about Andy Brack's book of commentaries, "Bugging the Palmettos." Click here to learn more and buy the book -- only $15.00!

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Excerpts from The South Carolina Encyclopedia are published with permission and copyrighted 2006 by the Humanities Council SC. Excerpts were edited by Walter Edgar and published by the University of South Carolina Press. No republication is allowed.