Conventional wisdom would suggest that Mark Sanford's effort to retake his congressional seat should have ended with Wednesday's revelation that he'd been caught trespassing on his ex-wife Jenny's property on numerous occasions. And yet, multiple pundits have suggested that he could still win.
For instance, U.S. News and World Report interviewed a longtime watcher of the South Carolina scene who thinks Elizabeth Colbert-Busch is still the underdog in this race.
"If you put a gun on me, I would say still as a Republican he's got to be the favorite," says David Woodard, a South Carolina political consultant and visiting professor at Southern Methodist University. "He wasn't depending on their money that much to begin with; he can get plenty of support."Let's make no mistake about it--SC-01 has a serious Republican edge to it, at R+11. But consider that we're talking about a guy who, according to Jenny Sanford's compliant, has flouted the requirement that he get permission to come to her house on multiple occasions--to the point that she had to file a "no trespassing" letter. And even if you believe Sanford's account that he only violated that provision once, he did so in an absolutely creepy way--sneaking into the house through the back door, using his cell phone as a flashlight. How in the world is that not too much even for an R+11 district?
But Woodard does say the decision by the National Republican Congressional Committee, made in the wake of public revelations Sanford would be appearing in court two days after the May 7 election on allegations he repeatedly trespassed on the property of his ex-wife, is just one of many factors piling up on Sanford.
"It's sort of dying by a 1,000 cuts. Every time you get a new news story, it's bad," he says. "It seems pretty incomprehensible in my saner moments that a Republican could lose that seat, especially somebody who used to hold it, but I can begin to see a scenario where that could happen."
The Daily Beast's John Avlon, whose parents live in Charleston, thinks that while many of the district's voters may be disgusted with Sanford, they may still hold their noses and vote for him in May.
South Carolinians have largely made up their minds about Sanford’s serious moral failing and the statewide embarrassment it created. There’s no doubt that he will have a hard time winning the women’s vote—and that could make all the difference in this election. But an equally large consideration for locals will be whether they want to give Nancy Pelosi an additional vote in the House.So if Avlon is to be believed, there are voters in SC-01 who would rather have a borderline stalker represent them than a librul any day. If that's the case, we REALLY need to get politicians out of the redistricting business. After all, there's something fundamentally wrong if it's even remotely possible for Sanford to still win with all that's come out this week.
7:25 AM PT: Adam B mentions a potentially huge development in this race in the comments:
Elizabeth Colbert Busch has opened up a more comfortable lead over Mark Sanford on the first night of our SC-1 poll
— PublicPolicyPolling (@ppppolls) April 19, 2013
If PPP says Colbert-Busch is leading, then Colbert-Busch is leading. Looks like the thousand cuts may be starting to bleed.