Our 2008 endorsements favor GOP; overall record still tilts to Dems

This is an all-things-to-all-people post.

Those of you who think we’re just another bunch of wild-eyed liberals who only back Democrats, just read this paragraph! I’ve done the count on this year’s endorsements (which you can go read here), and here’s the final count: We endorsed 8 Republicans (John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Joe Wilson, Nikki Haley, Michael Koska, Mike Montgomery, Celestine White Parker and Harry Harmon), 5 Democrats (John Spratt, Jim Clyburn, Nikki Setzler, Anton Gunn and Jim Nelson). And one independent (Elise Partin, in a nonpartisan election for Cayce mayor).

Now, those of you who think we’re that right-wing rag that only endorses Republicans, just read this paragraph! As you may recall, I started keeping score a couple of election cycles ago, and our running total in general elections, from 1994 through 2008, is 60 Democrats, and 54 Republicans, so we’ve endorsed Democrats 53 percent of the time.

As I’ve explained about a gazillion times, party is not a consideration for us. The only reason I know the numbers above is that I got tired of people constantly accusing us of being one or the other, so I went back through all of the general elections since I had joined the editorial board in 1994 (and everyone else currently on the board joined later than that).

Since then, I have kept the count up-to-date. But I only total up the numbers for the current year after we’ve decided all our endorsements. That makes for some pretty lopsided years in which someone might think we were pushing mainly for one party or the other. For instance, in 2006 we endorsed 12 Democrats and only five Republicans.

Here’s the year-by-year breakdown (and here it is on a spreadsheet):

Year      Democrats  Republicans Independents
1994          10                  4              1
1996            2                  5
1998            8                 11
2000            7                 10
2002            9                   4
2004            7                   7
2006           12                  5
2008            5                   8             1
TOTALS      60                54            2

Looking back at this, I wonder about the low number of independents, and then I remember that most of our opportunities to endorse nonaligned (or at least NOMINALLY unaligned) candidates have come in Columbia city elections, and these are not counted. I’m just looking at the November elections here. I think that one independent in 1994 was Bubba Cromer.

Have fun trying to find patterns, if you’re so inclined. I notice that, except for 1998, we have a tendency to go for Democrats in years when we elected statewide officials to S.C. government, and Republicans in presidential election years — except for 2004, which was a tie. I’m no statistician, but I sort of doubt that someone who IS a statistician would think a trend that involves only 8 elections and has two exceptions is much of a trend.

You could also compare the time BEFORE I became the editor (when the makeup of the board was quite different) to AFTER (I became editor in 1997), but you don’t get a dramatic difference. In the two elections before I was promoted we went for 12 Democrats and 9 Republicans, since then it’s been 48 Democrats and 45 Republicans — indicating that I have kept it closer to even than previous leadership did! Which of course is also statistically meaningless.

If we were trying to create a trend, it would be to aim for a 50-50 breakdown, so neither party could claim we were biased against them. But we’re not trying, so the results are imperfect.

You know what’s most startling to me? That in all those years, we’ve endorsed only 116 fall candidates. Seems like a lot more. But then, the primaries are always busier than the general.

10 thoughts on “Our 2008 endorsements favor GOP; overall record still tilts to Dems

  1. Sometimes Reader

    Brad
    God, You, and We ALL know you are not a right-wing rag. You are a Donny Myers/Jakie Knotts, puppet of all things Anti-Governor-Sanford rag. Big Difference. To your chagrin.
    From experience, I can see how — from a business standpoint, you would bow to them. But from a human standpoint — you need to show them the door.

    Reply
  2. Sometimes Reader

    ***Correction Police***
    Brad *,*
    God, You, and We ALL know you are not a right-wing rag. You are a Donny Myers/Jakie Knotts, puppet of all things Anti-Governor-Sanford rag. Big Difference. To your chagrin.
    From experience, I can see how — from a business standpoint, you would bow to them. But from a human standpoint — you need to show them the door.

    Reply
  3. faust

    You’re neither wild eyed liberal nor right wing zealot. Nope. No firmly held convictions one way or t’other for you…you are the worst of all possible worlds: Preachy, holier-than-thou, pseudo-sapient newspaper editors attempting to be the smartest people in the room. And doing it by being conspicuously inconsistent and calling it “independent.”
    Being an independent is really just a cover for being noncommittal. No courage in that.
    Dave

    Reply
  4. Barchibald T Barlow

    “You’re neither wild eyed liberal nor right wing zealot. Nope. No firmly held convictions one way or t’other for you…you are the worst of all possible worlds: Preachy, holier-than-thou, pseudo-sapient newspaper editors attempting to be the smartest people in the room. And doing it by being conspicuously inconsistent and calling it “independent.”
    Being an independent is really just a cover for being noncommittal. No courage in that.”
    Left wing – middle – right wing
    Don’t you think that’s a huge oversimplification of reality? Maybe people who see them selves as independent just don’t fit into that simple little world view.

    Reply
  5. faustd

    It’s almost as if you asked me if I agree with what I said Barch…of course I don’t think I’ve oversimplified. I think “post partisan politics” and “third way politics” are myths. What they really mean is conservatives must cave and liberals “triangulate.” I also think attempting to be an “independent is a cop-out and a cowardly way to avoid taking hard and principled stands on divisive issues.
    I think the editors are copping out- taking the easy way out- by not deciding to either have a conservative worldview or a liberal one and then standing on it.
    Fashionable inconsistency is the path of weakness and least resistance.
    That partisan enough for ya?
    Dave

    Reply
  6. bud

    Brad, the only election that really matters is for POTUS. I think the State is batting 1000 for the GOP since I can remember. The races that involve only SC voters really don’t count. A SC Democrat would qualify as a right winger in most other states. Take the race for Joe Wilson’s job. Do you really think Rob Miller qualifies as a liberal? Come on, he’s just as right-wing as Wilson and doesn’t stand a chance running as a moderate let alone a liberal. The State is pretty much a conservative newspaper. It just appears middle of the road by SC standards.

    Reply
  7. Barchibald T Barlow

    Well I have strong opinions on lots of divisive issues. I find myself on the “conservative” side on some issues and on the “liberal” side on others. I would neither describe myself as a right or left winger nor say that I cave to liberals or cop out on taking a stand. I can’t speak for the editors of this paper of course.
    As for those who “avoid taking hard and principled stands on divisive issues”, those are the ones who more often win office in my opinion. And I agree that avoiding a stand for political reasons is cowardly.

    Reply
  8. Bart

    Brad,
    After reading this blog for weeks and following the diversity of commenters, maybe it might be a good exercise to ask each one to publish on this blog their definition of what they consider a conservative and liberal to be and how they would fit into either one.
    Personally, I don’t believe there can be a definitive definition of either but only a generalization. I know many liberals who are completely anti-abortion and gay marriage but believe in the right to choose. Others who share the same viewpoint don’t hold that they have the right to choose and both should be against the law. I know many conservatives who share the same beliefs and convictions.
    Unless one is a total racial bigot, both sides share much the same opinion against racism and detest as much as the other. I think the dividing line is on the issue of forced quotas and initiatives.
    We have become accustomed to seeing a black face associated with welfare mothers, unemployment, out of wedlock children, absentee fathers, and all of the other ills associated with living at the bottom of the economic ladder. This is not something unique to any particular region but is a widespread problem across the country. I have seen enough of it firsthand to know better than to assign it solely to the South. Very seldom do you see even in the most liberal of publications stories about the average, hard working, stable black families that do exist across this country in larger numbers than depicted.
    Instead we see the poverty, crime, drug abuse, fatherless homes, welfare lines, and the ugly side of life as a steady diet. We tend to believe this is the only way African Americans know how to live because that is the picture that is almost always the one painted. If a young person sees only that aspect of their lives portrayed in the news, where is the hope? When they live in projects and the only message they hear is not one of hope, where do they turn? Is this a liberal or conservative issue or concern or does it belong to both sides?
    Education is another issue that seems to divide us. On one side are the public school proponents whe don’t believe in school vouchers allowing parents to remove their children from an underperforming school. Others see it as a necessity to secure a good education for their children’s future. What about the quality of education and the politization of the classroom by activist teachers? What about the teaching of an ideololgy by a teacher in a public school classroom by the choice of teaching materials he or she uses? How do you grade the progress of a student and offer some assurances that each one is being offered the same opportunity to learn and advance?
    These are just a couple of issues that define and at the same time defy the traditional definitions of what constitutes a liberal or a conservative. Be it Democrat of Republican, political affiliations can at times have indistinguishable lines of demarkation.
    Just a thought and it might give us pause to think about what we really do believe in.

    Reply
  9. Lee Muller

    If we had a decent public education system, hucksters like Barack Obama would be laughed off the podium.
    Socialism is only possible because the public schools have indoctrinated the students and failed to teach them to be good American citizens.

    Reply

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