Saturday, January 19, 2008

(VERY) Early Returns from Lexington County, SC

Four votes for Fred Thompson from a family of evangelicals, which is interesting because, when I spoke to these same folks two weeks ago, none of them were Thompson supporters. In fact, they were barely aware of his candidacy. One was a Giuliani supporter and the others were looking fondly upon Huckabee, but hadn't made a decision.

Proving...? Nothing, of course. But this is a storyline I've been hearing from South Carolina all week: "Values voters" drifting away from Huckabee. This might explain why he decided to play the Robert E. Lee card in the final days of the campaign. Can't get the religion vote? Go for the rednecks.

Also, these voters all commented on the weather (rain, but predictions of SNOW!). The mere mention of snow in the Midlands of South Carolina is enough to cause panic--an ice truck turning over on I-26 can shut down school in an entire county--and if even an inch of snow were on the ground, it would definitely keep some older voters away. But it looks like rain and upper 40s in Columbia today.

One last observation: The State (the most cumbersome newspaper name in America) is reporting expectations of modest turnout, lower than 2000. Absentee balloting is average or below, they report, in every county except Charleston (Charleston is McCain Country, FYI...)
The State quotes some "experts" attributing this to relative comity of the campaign this year. Others suggest it's a lackluster field of candidates and a significant number of voters are waiting for the real show, when Clinton and Obama come to town.

If Republicans can't get South Carolina voters pumped up, 2008 could be a very, very bad year.