Affinity Voting

Mark Sanford's Win

05.08.13 11:26 AM ET

I was a little surprised by the margin, but really, is this shocking? It's an R +11 district. Districts that can swing are typically no more than +5 in one direction or another.

I thought Colbert had a chance to pull it out, maybe a hidden women's vote. But Sanford just kept saying "Pelosi," and that reminded people that as voters, they care more about ideology than morality. I should have thought back to my visits to Charleston and my conversations with some liberals there. Not politicos, just people--art gallery owners, people at the bar, and so on.

When these chats turned political, the vibe I invariably got from people was: Yeah, we're liberal, but it's hopeless, we're surrounded. When people feel like that as a general propostion, they're not going to go to the mat to elect a congresswoman. They're going to try to spend as little time as possible thinking about politics and as much as possible thinking about other things.

Anyway, it's one of politics' oldest rules. He may be a creep (or crook or asshole or whatever), but he's our creep. The "our" in that sentence is entirely about affinity (he's one of us) and ideology (he thinks like we do). The silver lining is that he's just a junior member of the crazy House from a crazy (politically) state who won't matter very much in the national scheme of things. Against all that history and emotion, Colbert-Busch actually did a pretty good job, and she would have a future if she lived in a quasi-normal state.