Speechless in South Carolina

I'm in Columbia, South Carolina right now working on a story that relates at least tangentially to the state Senate race that I mentioned recently (...
by | June 17, 2008
 

I'm in Columbia, South Carolina right now working on a story that relates at least tangentially to the state Senate race that I mentioned recently (here and here) -- the one that's a proxy war between Republican Gov. Mark Sanford and his legislative adversaries.

So I called the campaign of Katrina Shealy, the Sanford-supported candidate, to find out if there was a speech or a rally I might attend. I was told that there were none. All the campaigning was going to be door-to-door.

It's tempting to conclude from that response that the great old-fashioned tradition of retail campaigning is alive and well in legislative politics. The truth, though, might very well be that this is actually a story of new-fashioned retail campaigning.

As Alan, my blogging partner, discovered a couple of years ago, sophisticated micro-targeting technology has seeped down to the legislative level. Candidates now often know who is a likely voter in a G.O.P. primary runoff election. They also might have all kinds of hints as to which of those voters will be persuadable and which won't.

If Shealy has access to that data, it probably makes more sense to go directly to the voters that will decide the election than to give speeches to people who are already your most loyal supporters.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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