Elizabeth Colbert Busch is the Democratic candidate in the South Carolina’s upcoming special congressional election. She is running against Republican Mark Sanford, former South Carolina Governor and a figure notorious for having an affair with an Argentine woman to whom he is now engaged. If one also takes into account Sanford’s contentious relationship with the South Carolina legislature, then it seems that Busch’s path to victory lies straight ahead. Yes, but like always, there are a few complications.
A mysterious conservative group, “SSI Polling,” has been running hypothetical smear questions to voters in South Carolina on Busch in order to dissuade people from voting for her in the upcoming election. They are carrying out what is known as “push polling,” a tactic not so unfamiliar to South Carolina who is in fact known for dirty tricks. The group calls up voters, and pretending to be conducting a poll, it asks questions that leave the voter on the receiver with a highly-misleading impression about a certain candidate.
“SSI Polling” is calling voters in South Carolina, asking them if they were aware that Elizabeth Colbert Busch had an abortion or that a judge held her in contempt of court during her divorce proceedings. The sketchy poll could affect Busch’s ratings and her popularity among voters.
Voters told Think Progress that they were asked the following questions:
- “What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if I told you she had an abortion?”
- “What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if I told you a judge held her in contempt of court at her divorce proceedings?"
- “What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if she had done jail time?”
- “What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if I told you she was caught running up a charge account bill?”
Although the old “push polling” tactic has been quite well known in South Carolina, these questions are particularly outlandish. It is not yet clear how Busch will respond to this situation, but one thing is for certain: dirty tactics like these destroy the idea of a political utopia where everything is won fair and square.