Hillary Clinton and Gresham Barrett do not have a lot in common. But, they do have one thing in common. Two years ago, Hillary Clinton thought she saw a light at the end of the political tunnel. That light was the political freight train called Obama for President. Now, Barrett faces a similar situation. He moved up in the poles, got in the runoff, and that Haley train horn is blowing from the light his campaign sees in the tunnel. Like Obama for President in 2008, Haley for Governor in 2010 has momentum that just cannot be logically explained.
Barack Obama got elected President of the United States with a relatively flimsy resume by running a campaign long on emotion and platitudes and short on substance. Back in 2008, there were even Republicans who voted for Obama thinking that he was moderate or middle of the road and because they liked him. Fast forward to South Carolina in 2010, and the same can be said for Haley. People like her and vote for her, but do not really offer a logical argument as to why. It is stunning how little is really known about Nikki Haley. Further, like Obama in 2008, if someone dares to question something such as Haley’s attendance record in the SC House, they are labeled as disloyal to the Republican Party and the state.
There are several factors at play. First and foremost is the economy. During hard times, voters seem to be emotional and look to support the most ignorant and least experienced candidate in order to change things. It happened throughout the country in the 1930s with the most prominent example being country music singer Pappy O’Daniel being elected Governor of Texas. If a candidate can touch people somehow, voters will fall all over themselves in difficult times to ignore a candidate’s very real faults just for the hope that candidate will make things better. Thus, in the wake of the bank failures of 2008 and being still involved in two wars, America turned to Barack Obama. As Obama turned about to be far more liberal than expected and woefully over his head, South Carolina voters shifted to another candidate who is long on rhetoric and short on resume, Nikki Haley.
Haley also has the sleaze factor in her favor. Two types of players in politics are held in really low regard: bloggers and lobbyists. When a blogger and a lobbyist came out and said that they had improper relations with Haley, it gave her an incredible boost. There are still enough older voters left in the SC GOP for Haley to become the Southern Lady done wrong. Even if some believe the charges, they believe that a Southern gentleman does not kiss and tell. The incredibly boneheaded comments of Jakie Knotts were just the icing on the cake, so to speak.
Momentum was created, like with Obama, that just seems unable to be stopped. Such is politics today. Forget voters voting for the most qualified candidate for an office like Governor. The factors really are: having fair to good sexual appeal, having a bit of charisma that gives some hope, talking in platitudes about nothing of substance, and the willingness to celebrate one’s ignorance and lack of experience in government affairs. If a candidate has such factors, things like their actual job performance will not matter. Having some boneheads attack that candidate without really backing up their claims is just insurance. Haley is a lot like Obama. And, Obama won.