National media may get South Carolina wrong, but on the whole, I find the British press more readable. So it was that I enjoyed this piece in The Guardian, which took a hard-eyed look at political precedent.
You know how analysts over here like to say things like “If Obama wins/loses re-election, it will be the first time that a Democrat ever did so in a year ending in the numeral 2,” or some other such meaningless nonsense — as if every election weren’t distinct, and decided on the basis of millions of reasons scattered across the electorate.
It’s political analysis on the level of sports color commentary — Well, Tim, if he swings at this and misses, it will be the first time that an American League right-hander, facing a left-handed reliever in the bottom of the seventh with men on first and third, has ever, yadda yadda.
In this piece, Harry Enten demonstrates that this election, however it comes out, is destined to break all sorts of records — as does every election.
But the part that jumped out at me, and that I want to share with you today, is this passage:
At least one of these rules, and likely more, are going to be broken in 2012. The conventional wisdom will be turned on its head: 2012 will indeed be a “unique year”. Believers of this idea can also point to the primary season for the uniqueness that is 2012.
Here are three of them that have since gone the way of the Linotype.
1. No Republican candidate had ever won the South Carolina Republican primary without winning either Iowa or New Hampshire – until Newt Gingrich.
2. No Republican had ever won the nomination without winning South Carolina – until Mitt Romney.
3. No non-Protestant candidate had ever won the Republican nomination – until Mitt Romney.
Yep, of the three unprecedented things that happened in the GOP primary season in 2012 involved South Carolina.
Sometimes, we even shock ourselves.