The Numbers Tell The Story
June 26, 2002
The Republican primary season is mercifully over now that all of our candidates are in place ready to go head-to-head in the general election against the Democratic and third party candidates. As hard fought as the primary season was over the past few months, it will start all over again for Mark Sanford, Andre Bauer, Mark Hammond and Henry McMaster in the next few weeks! Congratulations to each of these winners!
I would like to write one more article on the gubernatorial runoff election based on the final voting results before we bid it a fond farewell (or should it be good riddance?!). As I was watching the numbers come in on Tuesday night, I couldn’t help but notice their peculiarity. As I closely examined the vote totals from each of the 46 counties, I found that the numbers tell the story of the runoff for the GOP nomination for Governor quite well:
On June 11th, there were 316,255 votes cast in the Governor’s race.
On June 25th, there were 303,642 votes cast in the Governor’s race.
This was ONLY a 4% drop from the primary to the runoff, far less than the 50% drop that was expected!
CANDIDATE SUPPORT IN THE RUNOFF VS. THE PRIMARY
Bob Peeler received LESS votes in the runoff in half (23) of the counties than he did in the primary race (including drops in heavy Upstate counties such as Anderson and Spartanburg).
Mark Sanford got MORE votes in every single county in the runoff than he did in the primary (including 30% or more increases in the counties of Aiken, Anderson, Charleston, Darlington, Dorchester, Florence, Greenville, Laurens, Lexington, Newberry, Oconee, Orangeburg, Pickens, Richland, Spartanburg, Sumter and York)!
Not only did Sanford’s base support him again, but they brought people with them to the polls for the runoff election! Peeler’s base was uninspired.
CANDIDATE SUPPORT IN THEIR “HOME COUNTY”
Bob Peeler got 709 LESS votes from Spartanburg and only 705 MORE votes from Greenville in the runoff than he did in the primary.
Mark Sanford got 8797 MORE votes from Charleston in the runoff than he did in the primary.
Charleston voters made a bold statement by heavily supporting their hometown favorite, Mark Sanford, in the runoff. Conversely, Bob Peeler’s support in Greenville and Spartanburg remained the same as the primary.
CANDIDATE STRENGTH COMPARISON
Bob Peeler won 20 counties for a total of 56,022 votes.
In the 26 counties he lost, Bob Peeler received 65,401 votes.
Mark Sanford won 26 counties for a total of 138,195 votes.
In the 20 counties he lost, Mark Sanford received 43,304 votes.
Sanford received 60% more votes in the counties he won than Peeler did in the counties he won!
FIVE DIGIT VOTE TOTALS FOR EACH CANDIDATE
Peeler Had 3: 18,607 from Greenville County, 12,322 from Lexington County and 11,559 from Spartanburg County.
Sanford Had 5: 27,192 from Charleston County, 19,804 from Greenville County, 16,657 from Richland County, 15,991 from Lexington County and 11,019 from Horry County.
Charleston and Richland County were huge for Sanford. Spartanburg and Horry cancelled each other out. Greenville and Lexington were split, with a slight edge to Sanford. These are the key counties that made this election!
WHERE THIS RACE WAS WON
Peeler’s vote tally in Greenville accounted for 6% of the total votes cast, in Lexington accounted for 4% of the total votes cast and in Spartanburg accounted for 4% of the total votes cast. Peeler’s vote total in his top counties only accounted for 14% of the vote total!
Sanford’s vote tally in Charleston accounted for 9% of the total votes cast, in Greenville accounted for 6.5% of the total votes cast, in Richland accounted for 5.5% of the total votes cast, in Lexington accounted for 5% of the total votes cast and in Horry accounted for 3.5% of the total votes cast. Sanford’s vote tally in his top counties made up 30% of the vote total!
Peeler failed to capitalize on his strength in the Upstate. This was most evident in his loss of Greenville to Sanford. The Lowcountry and Midlands helped give Sanford his decisive win!
While the reasons why Sanford prevailed over Peeler by a 60%-40% margin will be debated, no one can doubt that elections in South Carolina hinge on these key counties. This does not mean the candidates should ignore the smaller counties. But there are bigger fish to fry in this sport called political elections. The numbers tell the story loud and clear here.
Are you listening, candidates?