SC congressional race a tossup between Sanford and Colbert Busch

gsmith@islandpacket.comMay 6, 2013 

Colbert Busch Sanford Voting

Elizabeth Colbert Busch is surrounded by the media after voting at Moultrie Middle School in Mt. Pleasant (Photo by Leroy Burnell; postandcourier.com.) Former Gov. Mark Sanford poses for the media after voting in downtown Charleston (Photo by Brad Nettles; postandcourier.com.)

LEROY BURNELL — postandcourier.com

  • A second poll by Public Policy Polling is confirming a tight race in the 1st Congressional District, with Republican Mark Sanford gaining momentum.

  • Election Day

    • Candidates are Republican Mark Sanford, Green Party candidate Eugene Platt and Democrat/Working Families candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch.
    • Polls for the 1st Congressional District special election are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today.
  • South Carolina law allows for a candidate to be the nominee of more than one party, a practice known as fusion voting. That means Colbert Busch's name will appear on the ballot twice -- once as the nominee for the Democratic Party and once as the nominee for the Working Families Party, a minority political party started by labor unions, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now and other community organizations.

    The party's platform includes universal access to health care, ensuring livable wages for all workers, and more funding for public schools. Colbert Busch's official vote total will be her Democratic votes plus her Working Families votes.

A second poll is confirming an especially tight race in today's 1st Congressional District special election, with Republican Mark Sanford gaining momentum.

A final poll released late Sunday by the Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling shows Sanford leading Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch by 1 percentage point. In the poll, 47 percent of those surveyed are backing Sanford, while 46 percent are backing Colbert Busch.

The survey's margin of error is 2.8 percent.

The one-point lead for Sanford represents a 10-point reversal from PPP's poll two weeks ago, when Colbert Busch led by 9 percentage points, at 50 percent to Sanford's 41 percent.

PPP said Sanford has gotten back into the race by painting Colbert Busch as a liberal with ties to national Democrats. The poll shows 47 percent of voters say she is a liberal, compared to 43 percent who characterize her as ideologically "about right."

Another poll, released last week by Republican firm Red Racing Horses, showed a tie, with each candidate at 46 percent support.

Both candidates received and delivered jabs on the campaign trail Monday in an effort to break the tie.

Colbert Busch took some heat for failing to give reporters specific answers, while Sanford took a new wave of heat for his personal life.

During a campaign stop Sunday, the Charleston businesswoman would not say if she would vote to repeal federal health care reform, and her reticence was pointed out by several reporters.

"I have to see the bill," Colbert Busch told reporters. "Let's get elected on May 7, and let's go from there. When they bring it to the desk, we'll go from there."

Colbert Busch has said the law should be seen as a first draft and contains both good and bad parts.

The PPP poll reconfirms 1st District voters are conservative. Forty-eight percent of voters said Sanford's views are "about right" on the issues, compared to just 38 percent who see him as too conservative.

But the S.C. Democratic Party reminded voters Monday that Sanford has not always behaved in ways that social-conservative voters would approve.

The party sent out email blasts of seven "brutal passages about Mark Sanford" from his ex-wife's 2010 best-selling book, "Staying True."

They include Mark Sanford telling Jenny Sanford he didn't want to include a vow to be faithful in their wedding ceremony, refusing to go with her to childbirth classes, forcing her to give back a birthday gift, and asking her for advice on how to deal with his personal indiscretions in interviews.

The new poll indicates the former governor is recovering from more recent allegations that he has been on his ex-wife's property without her permission.

Nonetheless, 54 percent of those polled said they had an unfavorable opinion of Sanford. Forty-four percent had an unfavorable opinion of Colbert Busch.

Related links

  1. SC Congressional candidates Sanford, Colbert Busch on the trail in final day of campaign, May 5, 2013
  2. Georgia congressman, civil rights leader, rallies Beaufort voters, May 5, 2013
  3. ANALYSIS: Ground game war: Could Colbert Busch beat Sanford in turnout battle?, May 4, 2013

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