The Campaign Spot

The Palmetto State Circus, a.k.a. the GOP Gubernatorial Primary, Enters Its Final Weekend

Here in Hilton Head, South Carolina, the print edition of today’s Island Packet has nothing on the state senator’s “raghead” comment about gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley (probably too late for their deadlines), and one sentence referring to the affair allegations. I’ve seen letters to the editor complaining about giving the claims any attention beyond the initial story, and the editors seem to be handling the charge with increasing skepticism.

While I’d feel more confident about Haley’s chances if there were more recent polling, I think this probably helps front-running Haley. The next 48 hours or so are almost guaranteed to be dominated by discussion of the “raghead” comment, and/or candidate and current state attorney general Henry McMaster’s contention that the campaign has hurt the state’s image:

“The behavior of my opponents, their campaigns and their supporters over the last few weeks has not served our state well,” McMaster said in a statement issued by his campaign. “In fact, it’s been embarrassing. . . . They should rein in their attention-starved surrogates, re-focus on the important issues at hand, and renew their commitment to putting South Carolina’s interest above their own self-interest.”

It’s been a long and hard-fought campaign, with plenty of mailers, ads, and debates, so I suspect there aren’t that many undecided voters left. I suspect this spurs what remaining undecided who are certain to vote to go with Haley, as a sort of rebuke to the dubious accusers. Alternatively, we could see a late surge for McMaster as he’s trying to position himself above the fray. Right now, I suspect the two go to a runoff.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has decided he wants to close out his campaign by challenging Haley to take a polygraph test.


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