A couple differing takes on my thought that Thompson may be not putting enough attention in South Carolina’s Low Country. First, from a reader who prefers to remain anonymous:
As a South Carolina native who still closely follows its politics, I can tell you that Fred is right to concentrate most of his efforts in the area above Columbia. The Upstate is the heart of GOP country in the state and typically has a heavier turnout than the Lowcountry. It was disaffection in the Upstate that brought then-Gov. David Beasley to his knees in his ill-fated 1998 re-election campaign. It was massive Republican turnout in the Upstate that put GWB over the top in the 2000 presidential primary.
I’m not suggesting Fred should completely ignore the Lowcountry, but he needs to concentrate on the most conservative area of the state, which typically has a higher turnout rate.
I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I think Fred has an excellent shot at winning on Saturday. Call it a gut feeling, but I talked to my Dad, who lives in Greenville, and he told me the area is really on fire for Fred. I also don’t think it helps McCain that he’s touring the state with Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is not especially popular with the GOP base right now.
Michael Graham, who’s run campaigns in that state, also thinks I’m overstating the potential value of the region to Thompson:
The 1st Congressional district was the one place McCain did well in 2000–Charleston to Myrtle Beach. Unfortunately for him, if you draw a line east-west through Columbia, 2/3rds of GOP primary voters live north of that line. When I was running campaigns (late ’90s) there were enough GOP votes in the 7 Upstate counties to win the entire state.
These gentlemen raise strong points. Let me put it this way – in 2000, Beaufort County was, indeed, only 3.1 percent of the turnout for the Republican primary. (I would note that the region has been booming in the past seven years or so, so I’d be surprised if it wasn’t at amount to at least a bit larger slice of the electorate this time around.) Back then, Bush won 44 percent, McCain won 53.
The most recent poll that breaks down the vote by region puts Thompson at 9 percent in the Low Country.
There’s not contesting territory that’s favorable to your opponent, and then there’s not contesting. Giuliani spent time there earlier, and is also at 9 percent in that poll. Huckabee’s at 34 percent (so much for the idea that the region is full of moderate or RINO transplanted yankees), Romney’s at 20 percent, and McCain’s at 15 percent. I admit this isn’t based on much more than my gut, but Thompson ought to be able to get a quarter of the votes in that region, easily.
And to his credit, Thompson has been hitting the region a bit more. On Saturday, he journeyed to Barbara Jean’s Restaurant on Lady’s Island drawing a crowd of about 200.
(Say one thing for Thompson, even if he doesn’t win the state, he’ll eat well while he’s there. Although Rudy Giuliani deserves credit for finding excellent Greek food at a roadside stop at the Squat & Gobble.)
A more optimistic take from Campaign Spot reader Matthew:
I do not represent the Thompson campaign, but I support Fred. I live in the Bluffton/Hilton Head area. I am happy to report a surge in Fred presence since your last post. I see signs out now, including a large homemade paint and plywood display on SR 170.
Fred stopped by Ladys Island last weekend. His visit got good coverage in the Beaufort Gazette. I missed him there but I did see him earlier in the day in Charleston where I got my Fred08 sticker. It’s on my jacket now. I’m a bit of an introvert so I don’t actively politick at strangers. However, I am getting a good share of “I love Fred” comments when I am out and about.