Public Policy Polling (PPP) released its final poll results for South Carolina's 1st Congressional District's special election on Tuesday. PPP found that Mark Sanford is up by 1 point (47-46). Just two weeks ago it appeared that Elizabeth Colbert Busch was beginning to run away with the race, being up 50-41. Elizabeth Colbert Busch has higher favorability numbers (50/44) than Mark Sanford (43/54) but still trails in the match-up.
Sanford, in the past two weeks, has shifted the tone of the election away from a local election into a national election. Sanford debated a cardboard cutout of Nancy Pelosi, which was roundly mocked by me and other observers. But it was a very smart move, politically. Nancy Pelosi's favorability in the district is 24/61. Now 47% of voters think Colbert Busch is too liberal, while 43% say she is just right. Meanwhile, 48% of voters think Sanford's positions are about right compared to 38% who think he is too conservative.
Sanford, in shifting the tone of the election has allowed his past misdeeds to be forgiven or forgotten. Meanwhile, during the debate Colbert Busch brought up, somewhat subtley, Sanford's hike along the Appalachian Trail which may have angered some voters into thinking that Colbert Busch can't/won't move on.
With the special election being on Tuesday, this poll might be very informative. If people vote for they like more, Colbert Busch would win handily. But even if she wins, Nate Silver warns that it's unlikely that she would stay as a member of the House of Representatives for very long. This is basically a toss-up at this point. If we are to believe in political momentum, Sanford should win. If we believe in favorability as an accurate predictor, Colbert Busch will win.
So how do I think the election will play out?
Elizabeth Colbert Busch: 47%
Eugene Platt: 5%
Mark Sanford: 48%