The key number to watch for in Tuesday’s race for governor? Incumbent Gov. Nikki Haley’s margin of victory.
Polls have shown the Republican, who narrowly defeated state Sen. Vincent Sheheen in 2010, leading in every survey this year.
Since 2010, Haley has spent four years calling Sheheen “Vince,” claiming responsibility for the recovering economy and raising money – $8 million-plus.
The money has been the key.
Sheheen’s underfunded rematch campaign has been, at best, bland, questioning Haley’s ethics, her job numbers and her management of debacles at the state Revenue and Social Services’ departments.
Most S.C. voters have yawned.
But do they really like Haley? (Or just the “R” behind her name?)
South Carolina has had three two-term governors, Democrat Dick Riley, and Republicans Carroll Campbell and Mark Sanford.
For each, re-election was far easier than their first race for governor – their margins of victory increasing by as much as 293,546 votes for Campbell and as little as 48,510 votes for Sanford, Haley’s one-time mentor.
Haley won by 60,000 votes in 2010. To match Sanford’s increased margin of victory, Haley needs to win by about 109,000 votes this time. To match Riley’s improvement, Haley needs to win by 180,000 votes. To match Campbell? (Forget it.)
With Sheheen seemingly destined to become South Carolina’s version of Adlai Stevenson, Democrats can find solace in the candidacies of Bakari Sellers, who ran laps around Republican Henry McMaster in their lieutenant governor’s debate, and Ginny Deerin, who has shown spunk – at least – in her bid to unseat Republican Secretary of State Mark Hammond.