Tag Archives: South Carolina

The Purpose of Runoff Elections

Take a look at these two sets of election results.  The first is from the Republican Party primary for Illinois Governor in 2010.  The second is from the Republican Party primary for South Carolina’s open Congressional District 1 seat that was held on Tuesday, March 19.

2010 Gubernatorial Primary — Illinois (Republican Party)

Bill Brady 20.26%
Kirk Dillard 20.24%
Andy McKenna 19.29%
Jim Ryan 17.04%
Adam Andrzejewski 14.47%
Dan Proft 7.73%
Bob Schillerstrom 0.97%

Brady became the party’s nominee with less than 21% of the vote.  His total vote difference over Dillard was a slim 197 votes.  In Illinois, a plurality of votes is sufficient enough for a candidate to become a party’s nominee.  Another way to look at the above result is that almost 80% of the Republican primary vote went to a candidate other than Brady.

2013 Congressional District 1 Primary– South Carolina (Republican Party)

Mark Sanford 36.9%
Curtis Bostic 13.3%
Larry Grooms 12.4%
Teddy Turner 7.9%
Andy Patrick 7.0%
John Kuhn 6.5%
Chip Limehouse 6.1%
Ray Nash 4.7%
Peter McCoy 1.6%
Elizabeth Moffly 1.0%
Tim Larkin 0.7%
Jonathan Hoffman 0.7%
Jeff King 0.4%
Keith Blandford 0.4%
Shawn Pinkston 0.3%
Ric Bryant 0.2%

Since no candidate received 50% of the vote in the South Carolina Republican primary, a runoff election will be held between the Sanford and Bostic on April 2.  In states where there are runoff elections, a candidate must get a majority of the vote in order to avoid a second or runoff election.  A runoff will ensure that a candidate will become a party’s nominee with a majority of the vote.  Runoff elections, as I mentioned, will give the voter a choice between two candidates.   There are, however, arguments against runoff elections.

Criticisms involving a runoff election include:

a.  Cost:  Having a primary and a general election are costly enough.  Adding an extra election in between will also come with a price.

b.  Turnout:  Voter turnout in the South Carolina Special Election Primary on March 19 was 70,399 out of 453,632 registered voters (15.5%).  Turnout was a little higher than expected.  That being said, turnout for the runoff election will be lower on April 2.  Too often, runoff election results are determined by the party faithful who turn out to vote consistently in elections.  The faithful, though, only make up a small portion of the actual number of registered voters in that party.

c.  First and Second Switch:  Low voter turnout could benefit the second place contestant.  There are no guarantees that the results from the first round will remain the same in the second go around.  Such was the case with Virginia Foxx in 2004.  She finished second in a Republican primary for Congress in North Carolina.  The winner of the first round of voting, Vernon Robinson, finished with 24% of the vote, way below the runoff threshold.  Foxx overtook Robinson in the runoff 55-45%.

What is your take on runoff elections?  Do you support them? Should there only be one primary election, as is the case in Illinois, where first place only needs a plurality to become the nominee?

Push Polling En Vogue in South Carolina

During last year’s election cycle, we all were inundated by public opinion polls that supposedly gauged how people were going to vote for President, Senate, House, and Governor.  In each of these cases, scientific polls were conducted to get those poll results. When you see polling companies such as Gallup, Rasmussen, Pew and the like, you know that the poll is credible.  You may not agree with their findings, but what you do get at the very least is a scientific method used to gather information.  The practice of push polling, however, is not credible and certainly not scientific.

A push poll is not a real poll.  In fact, those who conduct a push poll are not concerned about the data gleaned from their surveys.  A push poll is conducted in an automated fashion over the phone.  The goal of a push poll is to put a rumor or false inference in the mind of the person who answered the phone.  It designed to sway voters from one candidate to another.  To the untrained voter, they may believe the push poll is a scientific poll.  However, scientific polls usually do not ask questions such as, “Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain…if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?

(Photo:  AP Photo)

This question was asked of primary voters in South Carolina in 2000 regarding then-Presidential candidate John McCain and his non-Caucasian daughter.  The daughter was not black, nor was she illegitimate.  She just happened to be adopted from Bangladesh.  Using such racially coded language could stir up emotions in voters from a state such as South Carolina.

Supporters of then-Governor George W. Bush were have said to be the source of the McCain question.  Those who engage in push polling typically do not leave their calling card as to the identification of the push poll’s source.  They are negative in nature and are designed to destroy political campaigns.  The voter who answers the phone is left questioning the validity of what they just heard.  Push polls are not valid in any shape or form.

With a special election taking place this March, the voters in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District are now receiving push poll phone calls regarding a few of the candidates.  This Real Clear Politics story elaborates a little more on push polling in the 1st Congressional District and on the practice of push polling itself.  For a list of the candidates running for the seat once held by newly appointed US Senator Tim Scott (R), look no further than this site.

After reading the RCP story, what are your thoughts in regards to push polls?

Senator Scott

Governor Nikki Haley (R-SC) is set to appoint Representative Tim Scott (R) as a replacement for Jim DeMint (R) to the United States Senate.  Scott will become the first African-American Republican Senator from the South since Reconstruction.  Since Reconstruction, only six African-Americans have held the position of United States Senator.  Hiram Revels (R-MS), Blanche Bruce (R-MS), Edward Brooke (R-MA), Carol Moseley Braun (D-IL), Barack Obama (D-IL), and Roland Burris (D-IL) all served in the United States Senate.  Scott will be the seventh.