It's been a roller coaster of a special election in South Carolina's First Congressional District, and about 24 hours before the polls close, the race for the House seat once held by Senator Tim Scott looks to be a close one. As the Huffington Post noted, Republican Mark Sanford and Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch are in a virtual tie, with the latest PPP poll showing Sanford ahead by one point, 47 percent to 46 percent.
Sanford led early in this conservative district that last elected a Democrat in 1981, but the former governor, who became infamous after leaving South Carolina in 2009 to spend time with his mistress in Argentina, hit a pothole on his road to political recovery. Last month, it came out that Jenny Sanford is suing her ex-husband after he allegedly trespassed on her property earlier this year. The revelation revived the story of Sanford's affair and offered his opponent, Colbert Busch, an opening. She began to rise in the polls, helped by an influx of money from national Democrats and her connection to TV comedian brother, Stephen Colbert. Sanford, meanwhile, continued to sink. At one point, Colbert Busch had a nine-point lead.
But Sanford has bounced back, as evidenced by the PPP poll, through a combination of tying Colbert Busch to the liberal reputation of Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and some good, old-fashioned retail politicking. Sanford's been aided by support appearances on his behalf from fellow Palmetto State Republicans Nikki Haley, Lindsey Graham, and Scott. FreedomWorks and other conservative organizations have endorsed Sanford as well.
The question, of course, is if it will be enough. Sanford represented the district from 1995 to 2001, before his first election to governor in 2002. The First has been redrawn since he served in it, but it remains based around Charleston, where Sanford lives and is well known. And Colbert Busch, to the extent that her positions on issues can be discerned, may just be too liberal for the district. If she can pull out a win, it will be due to her ability to get an outsized Democratic vote in a special election and her luck in getting an opponent whose failures in personal and political judgment overshadow his ideological profile.