The Alvin Greene Mystery: How In The World Did He Win?

South Carolina is starting to become known for wacky political shenanigans. You had Mark Sanford walking the “Appalachian Trail.” Nikki Haley has had two allegations of affairs lodged against her — neither of which the public believed. Then there’s Jake Knotts, the lowlife who was rambling on about Haley being a “raghead” controlled by a “network of Sikhs.”

However, the most fascinating oddball figure in South Carolina politics at the moment has got to be Alvin Greene. Who is Alvin Greene? Actually, that’s a good question. How did a candidate no one knows, who apparently did no campaigning, manage to become the Democrats’:  representative in the race for Jim DeMint’s Senate seat? After seeing this interview, the answer certainly isn’t “raging charisma,” “preparation,” or even “basic competence,”

Just in case you’re wondering, the answer’s also not his “unimpeachable morals” or even his “smooth pick-up skills” since he’s facing a felony charge for showing a 19-year-old college student porn and then asking her to go back to his room AFTER she said she was offended.

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So, let’s start getting down to it: How did Greene win? Some people have suggested he was a Republican plant — but honestly, that doesn’t make much sense. For one thing, what’s the point of the Republicans putting a total unknown in the race? 9999 times out of 10,000, eccentric vanity candidates like Greene lose. Additionally, there didn’t seem to be any sort of Republican campaign to push Greene — because the Republicans didn’t seem to know any more about him than the Democrats. Moreover, the Democrats can try to hype it up as much as they want, but in a strong Republican year like this one, a D-list Charleston County Council candidate:  is no threat to beat Jim DeMint. So, why would the GOP even bother?

That leaves us with two seeming possibilities. The first is that there was some sort of fraud/voting machine screw-up. Vic Rawl’s campaign is suggesting that and there are enough red flags to make you go, “Hmmmm, just maybe…” Do keep in mind that this info comes from the Rawl campaign, so take it with a grain of salt, but…

According to Ludwig, of the state’s 46 counties, half have a disparity of greater than 10 percentage points between the absentee and election day ballots.

“The election day ballots all favor Mr. Greene. We don’t know what it means,” Ludwig said in an interview. “We did significantly better on absentees than Election Day, which is according to the mathematicians, quite significant. The other reason is, it didn’t happen in any other races on the ballot.”

In Lancaster County, Rawl won absentee ballots over Greene by a staggering 84 percent to 16 percent margin; but Greene easily led among Election Day voters by 17 percentage points.

In Spartanburg County, Ludwig said there are 25 precincts in which Greene received more votes than were actually cast and 50 other precincts where votes appeared to be missing from the final count.

“In only two of 88 precincts, do the number of votes Greene got plus the number we got equal the total cast,” Ludwig said.

Greene also racked up a 75 percent or greater margin in one-seventh of all precincts statewide, a mark that Ludwig notes is even difficult for an incumbent to reach.

“This may add up to nothing. This all could be a clerical error. We don’t know, but [we] thought it was worth looking into,” said Ludwig, who added that the experts doing the unpaid research asked that their names not be revealed until they disclose their conclusions.

Ludwig said the experts could be prepared to offer their findings by late Friday but cautioned that it’s likely not to be definitive.

“These are not detectives, they look at huge amounts of election data that say this doesn’t look like it should, or it does,” he said.

Asked what else could explain Greene’s unlikely rise, Ludwig appeared at a loss.

He said the Rawl campaign sent 300,000 e-mails, conducted a quarter million robocalls and logged nearly 17,000 miles to Democratic events around the state.

So, it’s got to be fraud, right?

No, not necessarily, because there is another alternative that makes some sense. Although Rawl is better known that Greene, he’s not a fixture in the state. A very large percentage of the South Carolina electorate had no idea who he was. So, that means:  an:  overwhelming majority of the voters were probably choosing between people they didn’t know. That potentially gave Greene two advantages. He was listed before Rawls on the ballot and, some would say, he benefitted even more from the spelling of his name,

State Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, who lost his gubernatorial bid Tuesday, said race could have played a role. The Democratic primary electorate is majority black, as is Greene, but not Rawl. “Vic Rawl had money, but he didn’t have enough. He wasn’t able to identify himself with black voters,” Ford said. “No white folks have an ‘e’ on the end of Green. The blacks after they left the plantation couldn’t spell, and they threw an ‘e’ on the end.”

In a choice between two largely unknown candidates, one white and one black, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if black voters broke 90-10 for the black candidate. However, Greene was incognito and there were no pictures on the ballot, so how could black South Carolinians know Greene was black? That brings us back to the spelling differences in the names. That was something I’d never heard before, so I decided to test it out. I went to Facebook and did a search for people with the last name of “Green” and “Greene.”

Out of the ones whose race was visible from their profile shot, the first 10 “Greens” broke down with 9 white and 1 black. The “Greenes” on the other hand, broke down as…..8-2 white. In other words, the “No white folks have an ‘e’ on the end of Green” theory doesn’t seem to hold up in practice. I’d also add that the statistical data doesn’t seem to support the idea that race was the decisive factor that carried Greene to victory.

So, my best guess? Barring some sort of third party fraud (Greene doesn’t seem sharp enough or well connected enough to pull it off), I’d say you just had two little known candidates duking it out and Greene was first on the ballot and was probably also EXTREMELY fortunate in the number of voters who randomly chose to pick his name.

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