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Five key factors

How Gov. Mark Sanford escaped impeachment:

The Jenny factor. When Gov. Mark Sanford needed her support most, his wife came to his rescue.

The 2010 governor's race. Lawmakers fretted removing Sanford would influence the 2010 race to succeed the term-limited governor.

Splintered public opinion. At no time did a majority of South Carolinians agree Sanford should be impeached, according to polling.

A timid impeachment panel. Critics say the seven-member House panel didn't dig hard enough on Sanford. They also say the panel was undercut by House Speaker Bobby Harrell, who said Sanford had not done anything impeachable before the panel met.

Good strategy, legal moves. Sanford's legal team did a good job of running out the clock. They also effectively framed 37 state ethics charges against Sanford as minor and technical.