Mark Sanford Wins. Time to Start Ignoring Him Again.

What Women Really Think
May 8 2013 1:24 PM

Mark Sanford Wins. Time to Start Ignoring Him Again.

Mark Sanford imitates the what-the-hell pose most voters made before voting for him

Photo by Mary Ann Chastain/Getty Images

Despite running one of the most dazzlingly creepy campaigns since Newt Gingrich was a viable politician, Mark Sanford managed to pull out a win in the special election to determine the congressman for the 1st district in South Carolina. This is not particularly surprising, as a dead tree stump with a wig would win that election as long as there was an (R) next to Tree Stump McDead on the ballot. Nor is this the first time that a "family values" Republican has gotten the straight white guy exemption that has been extended to blatant hypocrites like David Vitter and Scott DesJarlais.

What is surprising is that the win is being heralded as some kind of statement on Sanford's abilities as a campaigner. As Alex Pareene argues in Salon, it is not:

Yes, under-performing for a Republican in a heavily Republican district, in a special election, is definitely proof that Sanford was a superior candidate, and not merely that he had an R by his name. If anything, Sanford’s victory proves that candidates matter only in terms of ideology, not biography. In a very conservative district, the Republican candidate will win, even if he’s a weird creep with a humiliating past.

The fact of the matter is that Sanford's adultery and off-putting nature did lose him points in the election. He won by nine points, but the previous representative to hold the seat, Republican Tim Scott, won by 26 points. Romney won the district by 18 points. People picked Sanford with the same enthusiasm that vegetarians at the airport pick a slice of overcooked cheese pizza because there's nothing else available. 

Sanford will have to run again in 2014 to keep the seat, which he will do barring a major political scandal, but we’re unlikely to recapture the sleaze-magic that was this election. Sanford won't have to campaign as hard in the future, giving him fewer opportunities to defend himself for harassing his ex-wife. No more will he need to drive around South Carolina searching for women who will admit they dislike him to his face. Sadly, it is now time for Sanford to drift off into the relative obscurity, digging holes on his property to relax and reminiscing about the good old days of hijacking journalists’ rental cars. The Internet is bound to be a glummer, more somber place.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

Yes, Black Families Tend to Spank More. That Doesn’t Mean It’s Good for Black Kids.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge


The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 6:30 PM Nothing Succeeds Like Secession Breakaway movements across the United States want to get on the Scottish bandwagon. 
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 6:23 PM Bryan Cranston Reenacts Baseball’s Best Moments to Promote the Upcoming Postseason
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 1:48 PM Why We Need a Federal Robotics Commission
  Health & Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.