What is it with South Carolina?
Kevin Drum, citing reports that the “Barack Obama is a secret Muslim” story has gotten some (very minor) legs is South Carolina and reminding readers that there were some rather ugly smears against John McCain there in 2000, asks, “What is it about South Carolina, anyway?”
This, perhaps predictably, brings forth some spewing of venom and counter-venom among commenters about ignorant Southern hicks and their hatred of the negro.
It strikes me, though, that a much less sociological explanation is more likely (leaving aside the small ‘n’ problem): South Carolina hosts the first significant primary outside the media decampments of Iowa and New Hampshire. Because the courting of voters in the latter two states is so prolonged and “retail,” they are flooded with press for months on end looking for even slightly nuanced variations of the same tired reports. Dirty tricks are simply going to get found out in that environment, probably early enough to backfire. The South Carolina primary, by contrast, is largely ignored by the national media until the week or so before the campaign. It’s simply more fertile ground for skullduggery.