Would it be so bad if Mark Sanford continued to be a national punchline?
If Mark Sanford does win the special House election in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District, and he might do that, what would it mean? Not very much. In fact, if Colbert Busch wins, it won't mean very much either.
If Sanford pulls it out, Democrats can comfort themselves with the notion that it is a very red district in a very red state. If Colbert Busch wins, Republicans can say, with good reason, that their candidate was fatally flawed.
The more interesting question may be, is winning that good for the GOP?
As The Week puts it:
Losing... might not be so bad for Democrats. Sure, a defeat would mean "a bit of short-term pain" for the party, says Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan in The Washington Post, but there's potential for some long-term gain. "Sanford is damaged goods." First, he acknowledged in 2009 that he went AWOL from his job to visit his mistress in Argentina, while claiming he was "hiking the Appalachian Trail." Then, more recently, he was accused of trespassing in his ex-wife's house to watch the Super Bowl with one of his four sons. This stuff has made Sanford a national punchline.
Not only, they say, would the late-night talk show jokes start again, but "every GOPer in the House and Senate will be asked whether they support Sanford and what they think of serving with him."
The GOP has a difficult enough time with women voters, as we all know. This guy could win the election, but having someone with his profile and his history in the House Republican Conference may not be the best outcome for the party.
And, on top of that, one would have to think Colbert Busch would be hard pressed to retain the seat against almost anyone else in 2014. If a Republican is likely to occupy the seat in the longer term, Democrats should want it to be this guy.
Let the GOP be known as the "party of men who leave their wives for younger women."
Having said that, I'd prefer to win, but losing has its upside.
(Cross-posted at Phantom Public.)