The headline in the paper over the weekend said, “S.C. Democrats: ‘We’re coming back'”:
S.C. Democrats still are smarting from a brutal November that stripped them of one of their two congressional seats, their only statewide office and a handful of General Assembly seats.
But, after some serious post-election number crunching, the state party contends Palmetto State Democrats fared better than Democrats in other states — whose candidates were clobbered by wide margins, too — and actually grew their ranks, laying the groundwork for a comeback.
“We’ve grown our base. These new numbers show we’re not dead and done like some people say,” said Jay Parmley, director of the S.C. Democratic Party. “Yes, we lost everything, but we’re coming back.”…
And what that headline tells us is, SC Democrats are delusional.
Oh, I’m not saying that it’s impossible that some new megatrend that has not yet been spotted by anyone could begin a reversal of the process that started in 1964, when Strom Thurmond joined the Republican Party, and white folks across the state started following him — first in a trickle, then in an accelerating flood.
What I’m saying is that there is no evidence extant at this time to believe that the Democrats are reversing nearly five decades of history trending against them in this state.
Certainly not the main “evidence” the optimists, whistling past their own partisan political graveyard, cite.
Vincent Sheheen’s strong showing is by no means a good sign for Democrats. Vincent Sheheen didn’t do that well because he was a Democrat. He did that well in spite of being a Democrat.
Vincent Sheheen was obviously a stronger candidate, who would clearly have been a better governor, than Nikki Haley. This could not be hidden from SC voters. They liked him better. But he lost, barely, because there are so many white folks in this state who would rather poke themselves in the eye with a sharp stick than pull the lever for a Democrat. His being a Democrat was therefore a huge liability.
If he had NOT been a Democrat — if he and Nikki had both run as Republicans, or if voters had somehow been kept ignorant of the party identification of the two candidates or, if you’ll allow me to dream (and Lord, hasten the day!), no candidate had had ANY party label — then he would have won.
This was obvious. Other statewide Republican candidates, in this huge year for Republicans nationally (and if you will recall, Nikki did everything she could to make the campaign national, running against Barack Obama instead of Vincent Sheheen, who was more likable than she) won in landslides. We’re talking double-digit margins. As I wrote right after the election:
It was so evident that Nikki was the voters’ least favorite statewide Republican (yes, Mick Zais got a smaller percentage, but there were several “third party” candidates; Frank Holleman still got fewer votes than Vincent). I look at it this way: Mark Hammond sort of stands as the generic Republican. Nobody knows who he is or what he does, so he serves as a sort of laboratory specimen of what a Republican should have expected to get on Nov. 2, 2010, given the prevailing political winds. He got 62 percent of the vote.
Even Rich Eckstrom — and this is truly remarkable given his baggage, and the witheringly negative campaign that Robert Barber ran against him — got 58 percent…
Oh, for those of you who don’t know, Mark Hammond is the secretary of state. Voters, by and large, don’t know that. All they knew was that he was labeled “Republican.”
That Nikki Haley, with her 51 percent, didn’t come anywhere close to their margins testified to voter discomfort with her (as opposed to a generic Republican like Hammond), and to the strength of her opponent (because SOME of those voters who went for the GOP in every other race voted for Vincent).
If she hadn’t had an R after her name, and he hadn’t had a D, he would be governor now.
And Democrats who say otherwise are fooling themselves.