Sanford wins House seat with 9 point margin in South Carolina special election

It wasn't even close, despite some polling that indicated a tight race between disgraced former Governor and Representative Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch, sister of the comedian Stephen Colbert. Glenn Smith of the Charleston Post and Courier writes:

Sanford defeated Colbert Busch 54 percent to 45 percent, according to full unofficial results. Turnout was heavier than expected, with about 32 percent of the district's 455,702 registered voters casting ballots. (snip)

Democrats jumped at the chance to pick up a traditionally safe GOP seat, putting up more than $1 million to back Colbert Busch, a businesswoman and sister of comedian Stephen Colbert. (snip)

...outgoing S.C. Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian...Friday [said] if Colbert Busch doesn't win, then the district is unwinnable for Democrats.

Democrats are obviously disappointed that even against a candidate who had lied to the public about his whereabouts in order to carry on an adulterous affair with an Argentinian hottie in a conservative Bible Belt constituency, a well-financed Democrat was unable to come close to victory. They may have been counting on a massive turnout that just didn't happen when the candidate is a white woman, not a black man (Hillary Clinton take note). John HInderaker of Powerline writes:

The polls showed this special election as a very tight contest. Public Policy Polling is a Democrat-leaning firm that did well in 2012 because it foresaw a massive Democratic turnout, despite the Obama administration's record in office. At one point, PPP had Colbert Busch ahead by nine points, and its final poll had Sanford leading by one. Which means that this time, the Democrats didn't turn out the way PPP expected.

The spin is already underway, of course. Cameron Joseph of The Hill sees trouble ahread for the GOP House leadership:

"House Republicans' outreach to women voters now has Mark Sanford as the face," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said in a statement following Sanford's win. "Republicans now have to defend him and stand with him until Election Day."

While it's likely Sanford and House GOP leaders won't have a warm and fuzzy relationship, it's unclear whether he'll be accepted by House conservatives either. A number have told The Hill in the past few weeks they would be happy to have Sanford's voting record back in the House - but most refused to discuss whether Sanford would be welcomed into their inner circle.

Many South Carolina House members from the party's right flank haven't embraced him yet. Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) endorsed one of Sanford's primary opponents. They stayed pointedly silent during the general election, as did Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).

But Sanford doesn't need to be embraced by any of his fellow congressmen to talk to reporters or get booked on television, and as he showed during his campaign to return to Congress.

Like former Reps. Allen West (R-Fla.) and Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), he can make a lot of noise and could be a prominent face of the party, no matter how isolated he is within the conference.

Jammie Wearing Fool responds:

Because a humiliating defeat for Democrats is always bad for the GOP, right?

Alex Roarty of the National Journal, writing before the results were in, more realistically pointed out that the Democrats will have their own recriminations to face in the wake of defeat:

A win here for Democrats would still serve as a boon for fundraising and candidate recruitment, not to mention proof it can win in the kind of ruby red districts Republicans have previously considered safe. But a loss will elicit heckles that national Democrats wasted precious time and money. That's not an ideal way to start the 2014 election cycle.

Any time a Democrat white woman related to a famous man as the source of her fame fails to excite Democrat turnout, I chalk up a double victory for the GOP.