Mark Sanford has come from behind to take a slim lead over Democrat Elizabeth Colbert-Busch in the hotly contested special election for the South Carolina first congressional district, sources familiar with the former governor’s internal polling tell FITS.
Several sources close to the Sanford campaign confirmed a poll was in the field over the weekend, but they declined to discuss specific numbers. Meanwhile Sanford’s spokesman Joel Sawyer did not immediately respond to messages seeking information on the poll.
Exact numbers were not divulged, but multiple sources familiar with the poll’s results tell FITS Sanford enjoys a single-digit lead that’s “outside of the margin of error” of the internal survey. One source said Sanford was “up five,” although they declined to provide a specific count.
“Sanford is in a good position of not needing to take votes from her, while she is in need of taking votes from him,” one source said. “She needs some unforced errors on the part of the Sanford campaign or she needs to run a scorched earth campaign in the hopes of driving down turnout.”
A survey taken three weeks ago by Public Policy Polling showed Colbert-Busch with a 47-45 percent edge over Sanford. Meanwhile a poll released two weeks ago by Colbert-Busch’s campaign had her leading the former governor by a 47-44 percent spread.
If Sanford indeed has a five-point lead over Colbert-Busch, that’s a pretty remarkable swing in such a short time – particularly when you consider Colbert-Busch has been running television ads for the past two weeks while Sanford has been off the air.
Mitt Romney won the first district by nearly 20 points last November, but a weak Republican field – combined with the fact this is a special election – has presented Democrats with a rare opportunity to steal a seat from the GOP. Ironically, as flawed a candidate as Sanford is (he’s the Appalachian Trial guy, remember?) he actually entered the race against Colbert-Busch polling better than the “Republican in Name Only” he defeated in the GOP runoff earlier this month.
The first district seat came open earlier this year when its most recent occupant, Tim Scott, accepted an appointment from Gov. Nikki Haley to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jim DeMint – who is now running a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
And if that didn’t make you dizzy, this same seat will come up for election again next year (along with the other 434 seats in the U.S. Congress) – with filing for party primaries opening in March 2014.