S.C. Voters Like Stephen Colbert's Sister More Than Him

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 27 2013 11:05 AM

South Carolina Voters Like Elizabeth Colbert Busch More Than They Like Her Brother

Stephen Colbert visits Late Night With Jimmy Fallon at Rockefeller Center on February 21, 2013 in New York City

Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images

A new poll out yesterday from South Carolina's 1st congressional district suggests Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch has a legitimate shot to pull off a surprise victory in May's special election to fill Republican Tim Scott's old House seat. The survey from Democratic-leaning (although generally pretty reliable) Public Policy Polling shows Busch with a narrow two-point lead over former Gov. Mark Sanford, 47 percent to 45 percent, and tied, 43-43, with Curtis Bostic. Her lead over Sanford, the current favorite to land the GOP nomination, is within the poll's margin of error, but the simple fact that a Democrat is competitive in the dark red district is noteworthy. Here's the PPP pollsters with the analysis:

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Focusing in on the potential race between Busch and Sanford it's surprisingly close for one simple reason—voters like Busch and they continue to strongly dislike Sanford. ... The big question for Sanford is whether the Republicans who don't like him—39% of them—will be willing to vote for him anyway in the general election. The undecideds in a Sanford/Busch race voted for Mitt Romney by a 77/12 margin in 2012 so they're an extremely GOP leaning group but because of their distaste for Sanford there's a chance that they'll vote for Busch or more likely just stay at home if Sanford is the candidate. If Sanford can up his share of the Republican vote in the general to 85% once he's the nominee that would probably be enough to put him over the top.

Given how much has been made about how Busch is benefiting from the support of her better-known brother Stephen Colbert, the survey provides a few unexpected data points on that topic. The Comedy Central star actually fares worse than his sister when it comes to favorability ratings in the Palmetto State. Forty-five percent of respondents said they had a positive view of Busch, while only 36 percent said the same thing about Colbert. (Busch's unfavorable rating of 31 percent was only slightly higher than her brother's 27 percent, and within the MoE).

Perhaps more surprising is the fact that Busch also beats her brother when you look only at those respondents who said they voted for President Obama in last year's election, a group that you might expect to love a comedian known for lampooning conservatives. Among those voters, Busch boasted a rather remarkable 87-5 favorable-unfavorable rating, easily besting Colbert's 62-12 split. (Of course, the favorable-unfavorable dichotomy doesn't really do justice to Colbert's fundraising prowess, or his ability to generate press coverage for his sister when she first tossed here proverbial hat into the ring.)

The big wild card in the special election: Jenny Sanford, who is viewed positively by 55 percent of respondents, nearly 20 points higher than her ex-husband. An endorsement from Jenny would likely give the former governor a much-needed boost among Republican voters who have yet to forgive him for his make-believe hike on the Appalachian Trail, which as we explained earlier his month is probably the reason he tried to convince her to run his campaign.

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***


The World

The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

How Movies Like Contagion and Outbreak Distort Our Response to Real Epidemics

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

Everything You Should Know About Today’s Eclipse

An Unscientific Ranking of Really, Really Old German Beers


Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Can Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu Pull Off One More Louisiana Miracle?

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
Oct. 23 2014 11:51 AM It Seems No One Is Rich or Happy: I Looked
The Vault
Oct. 23 2014 12:02 PM Delightfully Awkward Studio Action Shots of Players, Used on Early Baseball Cards
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 12:01 PM Who Is Constantine, and Should You Watch His New Show?
Oct. 23 2014 11:45 AM The United States of Reddit  How social media is redrawing our borders. 
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.