Despite Primary Loss, SC in Mitt's Corner
South Carolina expected to continue to stay red.
Mitt Romney and South Carolina voters have never been a very good match. Whether it is the former Massachusetts governor’s religion or his lack of consistency on issues that matter to the Palmetto State’s overwhelmingly conservative electorate, Romney just hasn’t aroused much passion. He finished a distant fourth in the 2008 South Carolina Primary with 15 percent of the vote. This year, as the presumptive GOP nominee and with the support of Gov. Nikki Haley and State Treasurer Curtis Loftis, Romney finished 12 percentage points behind Newt Gingrich.
Such apathy towards Romney gave Democrats hope that maybe South Carolina could be winnable after all. A poll in December confirmed as much. Last month, Karl Rove said that the state is up for grabs. But, if the sampling of voters and sources with whom Patch spoke is any barometer, Democrats should not get their hopes up. A variety of factors are working against them. One of which is the still the influence of the Tea Party in the state. Though few of them supported Romney in January, the Tea Party’s relentless get-out-the-vote efforts should help in a way that is a reversal of the norm in campaigns. Typically, the top of the ticket — as with Barack Obama in 2008 — helps candidates further down the ticket at the state and county level. But some members of the Tea Party think drumming up interest in local races could help them achieve their main goal — the ousting of President Obama.
That’s the approach Karen Martin of the Spartanburg County Tea Party takes. "We want to make the downticket so compelling that people will come out to vote, and while they’re out there they’ll out there vote for Romney," she said.
Other voters concede that Romney was not their first choice, but that they will vote for him. Bill Pomeroy of Simpsonville, who voted for Gingrich in the primary, is one such voter. He said, “A vote for Romney is a vote against Obama.”
Jim Wofford, a right-leaning independent from Fountain Inn, who also voted for Gingrich, agreed with Pomeroy. Wofford said that Obama’s recent comments in support of gay marriage only assured a stronger turnout for Romney. “If you want to get anything done in South Carolina you need the Baptists. And the Baptists will come out to vote for Romney after hearing Obama come out for gay marriage.”
Haley, in an appearance in Greenville on Monday, said that she does not think Obama’s support of gay marriage will have an impact on turnout. “(His) gay marriage stance is just another way to distract from the economy and that’s all he can do is distract because he’s failed as a president.”
Karen Floyd, publisher of Palladian View and a former State GOP Chair, said there is a lot of overlap among voters concerned about social issues and those concerned about a stagnant economy.
“The values voters are not Gov. Romney’s core.” Floyd said. “But they share much of the same interests as those within the GOP for whom the economy is the main issue. And this election is about the economy.”
Haley concurred and added, “Values voters elected a 38 year-old Indian-American female for governor. I have faith that the voters of South Carolina will come out for Gov. Romney.”
Even Democrats seem to acknowledge this, as a good portion of the time at their convention this past weekend in Columbia was spent discussing how they could help Obama — in North Carolina, a battleground state thought to be critical to the president’s re-election and one that he has already visited multiple occasions.
But the GOP plans on putting up a fight in the Tar Heel State. When asked on Monday if she plans on spending a lot of time in North Carolina in the coming months campaigning on Romney's behalf, Haley said simply, “Yes.”