Here’s how ‘our’ candidates did

By BRAD WARTHEN
Editorial Page Editor
THE TIME for reckoning has arrived. No, not the election; we just did that. I speak of my traditional post-mortem, in which I look back on the candidates this newspaper endorsed, and how they did.
    First, the obligatory disclaimers:

  • Endorsements are about who should win, in the judgment of The State‘s editorial board, not who will win. Predictions are another thing altogether. You want predictions, go to my blog. On this page, we do endorsements.
  • Political party is an unimportant consideration to us. We do our best to eliminate it from our considerations entirely. In fact, nonpartisanship is a quality we actively look for in candidates, and those who possess it are more likely to win our nod than those who don’€™t, other things being equal.

    There was a time when I contented myself with the disclaimers, and airily brushed aside any thoughts that ran against them. But even those of us who have grown accustomed to referring to ourselves by the editorial "€œwe"€ are human –€” when you prick us, do we not whine? And a human can take only so many years of people saying "€œYour candidates always lose,"€ and "€œThe State‘™s endorsement is the kiss of death,"€ or that we are part of the "€œliberal media" cabal or "€œthat right-wing Republican rag"€–€” especially when said human can offer objective data to the contrary, on all points.
    So, several elections back, I spent some time in our musty archives calculating just how many candidates we had endorsed had won and how many lost, and what the partisan breakdown had been — going back to 1994, the year I joined the editorial board. (No one else who was on the board then is on it now, so elections before that year did not concern me.) I just wanted to know.
    I was gratified by what I found, which was the same as what I had suspected: First, most of "€œour"€ candidates had won –€” which bodes well for policies we advocate, and also helpfully indicates that we are not "€œout of touch"€ with our community (to cite yet another tiresome accusation). Secondly, we had pretty much split down the middle between Democrats and Republicans –€” although we had endorsed slightly more Democrats, which will no doubt shock those Democrats who only remember our presidential endorsements, which have uniformly been Republican.
    The trend continues.
    Each year since I put those numbers together, I have added the latest election’€™s numbers to them. I’€™m always careful to do this after we’ve made all our endorsement decisions, to avoid being influenced by the wish to keep our numbers good. While sometimes we form a rough impression –€” one of my colleagues observed several weeks back that it felt like we were headed for a "losing season,"€ and at one point I remember thinking we were flying in the face of the Obama Effect with each Republican we chose –€” we’€™re careful not to keep a count. Not doing so is a tricky mental exercise, rather like a pitcher telling himself, "€œDon’€™t think about the fact that you’€™ve got a no-hitter going," but election seasons are so busy for us that it’€™s easier than you might think to avoid stopping to calculate.
    Anyway, I went through our endorsements (all of which you can read at thestate.com/endorsements) to do the partisan count the week before the election, and indeed we were defying the Obama Effect: We had endorsed eight Republicans and five Democrats. (And Elise Partin, running in the nonpartisan race for Cayce mayor.) That brought our eight-election running total (every two years, starting in 1994) to 60 Democrats and 54 Republicans, or 53 percent to 47 percent. Back in 2006 we had backed 12 Democrats and only five Republicans. (Since we don’t consider party when choosing a candidate, it’€™s sort of random — one election year we might be lopsided for Democrats; the next year for Republicans. So it’€™s nice to see this running total, if you value nonpartisanship the way I do.)
    And as always, once I added them up after Tuesday’€™s results, we had a "winning season"€–€” although, to be brutally honest, "€œour"€ candidates didn’€™t dominate quite as much as usual.
    This time, nine of our candidates won their elections, and five lost. That’€™s a winning percentage of 69. That brings our running record since 1994 to 85-31, or a .733 batting average — which is down from .753 as of four years ago, but still satisfactory in my book.
    That’s the strictest way to look at it, and the way I’m going to keep it on my running spreadsheet. If I wanted to be generous to us, I’d say that John McCain did win in South Carolina, and surely you can’€™t hold us responsible for what the rest of the country did? But I won’€™t let myself do that. And if we included ballot questions, on which the voters agreed with us four-to-two… but that would be inconsistent with the way I counted past years.
    Looked at another way, the voters agreed with us on four of the Democrats we endorsed, and four of the Republicans, and disagreed with us on one Democrat and four Republicans. That’€™s counting McCain as a loss, of course. And they agreed with us in the one nonpartisan race (if only there were more!) for Cayce mayor.
    So I’€™ve told you what I know about our stats — except for one thing. You might still wonder, what if he had been making predictions? Well, I did, on my blog, on Tuesday before the polls closed. You can go look. I got 13 predictions right, and one wrong, and on that one I had been tentative, hoping more than believing Mike Montgomery would keep his seat on Richland County Council.
    So that’€™s how we did. How’€™d you do?

Come tell me about it at thestate.com/bradsblog/.

20 thoughts on “Here’s how ‘our’ candidates did

  1. Randy E

    First, most of “our” candidates had won –€which bodes well for policies we advocate, and also helpfully indicates that we are not “out of touch”€with our community (to cite yet another tiresome accusation).
    I thought you were a champion of the Un-Party and nonpartisanship yet McCain turned your party up side down. At the end his ads were 100% negative which, according to the 2000 McCain, indicates that he “had no ideas.”
    My understanding is that The State’s endorsement of McCain was a reflecdtion of the world view of two white male boomers (the two on the board who voted for him). Consider that an African-American garnered a 6% edge over a war hero, 60% of self-reported moderates voted for Obama, and the only age group McCain won was 65+. It appears that you were most certainly out of touch with the national community.

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  2. p.m.

    I thought we were supposed to be getting past racism, sexism and agism (how many stories did I see about aged black women being toted to the polls to vote for Obama?)
    But now that Brad and his publisher have drawn fire for being “white male boomers”, the hypocrisy of the liberals who never can quite get past themselves is showing.
    National “community”?
    National horde.

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  3. Randy E

    PM, I appreciate your tongue in cheek dry humor. Funny stuff.
    Regardless, there are some white males who simply cannot fathom that others may actually have a different perspective that would also be valid. Boomer white males likely view the world differently (in some respects) than say black females. For example, white males aren’t jumping for joy because a white male was finally elected president after 200+ years.
    I also like your joke about getting past racism and sexism as if they are now non-issues. Estimates reach as high as 15% of people who know someone who won’t vote for Obama because he’s black. There is one black US senator and one black governor.
    There has never been a female president or vice president with only 2 even on the national ticket. Only 20 states have ever had a female governor and less than a dozen have one now. There is a little more than a dozen female senators now.
    I am also amused at the hate mongering directed towards “liberals” because the GOP collectively have shot themselves in the foot the past 8 years. Time to sleep in the bed that you made.

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  4. Rich

    South Carolina is a small state, and if this state is to have any impact nationally on policy, the views of the majority simply must become more moderate.
    We must democratize our state constitution, continue to improve education, work on our infrastructure, and deal decisively with problems such as illiteracy, infant mortality, ubiquitous obesity, and lack of adequate health insurance.
    Instead, our Republican majority has its collective head up its butt over abortion, gay marriage, militarism, evolution, and religious fundamentalism. When you compare S.C. with our southern neighbors (neither of which is a national paragon of anything), you see our state consistently compared unfavorably.
    I remember years ago that the State did an article on the flight of young talent from S.C. colleges to other states to find work in business, industry, and education because of the pervasive cronyism that exists in this state at all levels. If you’re not somebody’s friend or relative, your qualifications just don’t matter. What counts is your position in the social pecking order.
    This certainly has been the story in public education in this state. National Board certification partially addresses the problem since many school boards want the prestige of having such teachers on their staffs, but they don’t necessarily give them access to power and influence in the school unless they’re home-grown.
    Then there is our practice of hiring people for administrative work who have not gotten certified to do it beforehand. Friends and relatives take care of friends and relatives in this state.
    There is a pervasive culture of nepotism in this state that vitiates our efforts to educate our youth and convince them that their education will pay off right here in S.C. When they see all around them that whom you know is still much more important than what you know, can you blame them?
    Barack’s election hits this decisively in the head on a national level. Here is a well-educated person who has a degree from Harvard Law and who taught part-time for twelve at the University of Chicago. The smoothness, level-headedness, and intelligence with which he ran his campaign should give us a hopeful indication of how he will run the country.
    Instead of John McCain’s exasperating frat-boy bluster and erratic behavior, we’ll have somebody that the world can actually admire. Bush and his cronies can go back to their ranches in Texas and Wyoming where they can rusticate to their hearts’ content until they are “called home” by whoever they believe does the calling.

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  5. Phillip

    I’m not sure what Obama Effect you’re talking about relative to SC that you had to fly in the face of in choosing Republicans. All GOP incumbents in Congress won here, and McCain won the state as you noted, though by 8 fewer percentage points than did Bush four years ago.
    One race that was interesting was Wilson’s relatively close win. The fact that Miller didn’t pile up quite the margin in the Richland County part of the district that Wilson did in the Lexington County part was the deciding factor. As for the presidential race, in the State’s immediate geographical vicinity, Richland County went 2-1 for Obama while Lexington County went even slightly more than that for McCain.
    It will be interesting to see if the demographic changes that caused VA, NC, and FLA to tilt blue this year will move on into SC territory and affect elections here in years ahead. My guess they will, but more slowly than in those other states.

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  6. Ralph Hightower

    I don’t vote a straight party ticket. I don’t consider myself Republican or Democrat, although other posters on this blog would label me a Democrat. I have voted for Republican and Democrat candidates for President. I am a switch-hitter.
    I entered the voting booth, voting for “term limits”, i.e., “Throw the bums out” mindset.
    I didn’t get the chance to visit http://www.votesmart.org/official_congress_state.php?state_id=SC to see how my senator and representative voted on H-1B visa legislation. But since Washington is adept in burying other legislation in legislation as an amendment, it is difficult for those of us who are not lobbyist to track all of the nuances in legislative bills.
    At the national level, my percentage is 33%:

    • I voted for Obama because I think he has a better command on the economy and moving tax breaks from companies that move jobs offshore to those that bring the jobs back.
    • I voted for Rob Miller for several reasons: The State said that Joe Wilson was partisan and for personal reasons, Wilson emailed me a request to stand on bridges waving “Wilson” banners and gave my email address to a political consultant where I received an “attack article” from Palmetto Scoop. As I do with all spam that our household receives, I modify our personal computer network to redirect spamvertised domains to “home” (127.0.0.0/8)
    • My vote for Bob Conley was a protest vote. Lindsey Graham has demonstrated the skill to work with Democrats, however, during the debate with Conley, Graham gave a wacko answer to one of the moderators questions. The moderator said that his father’s employer closed the textile business because of the jobs being moved overseas. Graham advocated training for new skills; this guy’s father is 60 years old! He was so close to retirement! How is job retraining going to help someone very close to retirement? Graham didn’t listen to the question and instead gave a canned response. Based on Lindsey’s response, I would say that he is in favor of H-1B visas. Conley also gave a wacko answer about Afghanistan, but I was in the kitchen at the time and didn’t catch his full statement.

    At the state level, my percentage is 0%. Chip Huggins and Ronnie Cromer won. Huggins is ambivalent on school vouchers. Cromer was a “term limits” decision.
    At the county level, my percentage is 100%. Lexington county is Republican country, although there were some Democrats running for office.
    In the past, with the punch card ballots, I didn’t vote for the non-contested races. Next time with the electronic ballots, I will write in “No Confidence” for those non-contested races.
    Incumbents are hard to beat. With Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) as the VP choice for John McCain, some attention was focused on Alaska’s politics. Ted Stevens (R-AK) was reelected to the US Senate in spite of being recently convicted in Federal Court. Don Young (R-AK) was reelected to the US House in spite of rumors of taking bribes.

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  7. Framed

    After watching Governor Palin’s composure during the campaign, and afterward while being scapegoated as the reason McCommie lost the election…I think she would do more for women’s rights than anyone I have seen battle it. She knows how to skin ’em. Some need skinning.

    I did not vote for her ticket, as a protest to what the RNC has become — and Katon Dawson would fit right in there with their snake-li-ness…
    I voted third party this year. The Republican Party has truly lost its branding.

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  8. Lee Muller

    Randy E voted for Obama because Obama is half-white.
    The main reason most Obama voters chose him was to make him “the first black president”.
    A white candidate in a racist mongrel church, surrounded by terrorist and communist friends and advisors, would never have gotten the free pass from the press and voters that Obama got.

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  9. Phillip

    Meant to post this interesting map on this post but did it on another thread by mistake. Anyway, pretty interesting to see a distinct belt where McCain outdid Bush’s support in 2004 (not many places, for sure). Almost no counties in SC, in spite of still winning the state.

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  10. Phillip

    Brad, since you are reporting on how your endorsed candidates fared, I went back to this thread and checked on the predictions therein.
    Kudos to Norm Ivey, who was the only one bold enough to predict as many as “345-355” electoral votes, the only one even close to the eventual 364-174 margin. Even most of us who were Obama supporters dared not guess such a big electoral college majority. Bud was closest on his popular vote call, 52-47 Obama. Brad, your specific predictions were also very close, including your 55-45 call for McCain in SC, and correctly predicting the closeness of the Joe Wilson race.

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  11. bud

    Phillip, minor correction. Apparently the second district in Nebraska voted for Obama giving him the edge 365-173. I thought it would be much closer.

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  12. Lee Muller

    Brad, you sound like a frustrated sports writer, consumed with you endorsements, and your predictions, the stats, the race results.

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  13. Brad Warthen

    I also predict the Gamecocks will beat the Razorbacks, 34-21.
    Phillip, thanks for the kudos. The Obama Effect was in play in South Carolina in that Democrats did better than they would have without him, and in areas with high Democratic percentages, it was harder than ever to get elected as a Republican. That’s what did in Mike Montgomery, for instance. And it’s probably (although I’m less certain about this) what gave Anton Gunn his victory. (And for us, that’s bad news on Montgomery, good news on Gunn.)
    As for Lexington County being an insurmountable obstacle for the Democrat in the 2nd Congressional District — well, I called that, too. But I don’t claim credit for that; it’s just a well-known fact. The district was drawn that way. Every Democrat who has mounted any kind of a challenge — Jim Leventis, Jane Frederick, Rob Miller — has fallen victim to that.

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  14. Lee Muller

    Joe Wilson and James Clyburn are brothers, born of the same gerrymandering.
    Every candidate who has run against Clyburn or Spratt has been a much better person.

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