Everybody wants to know how Alvin Greene could beat the mighty Vic Rawl in a one-on-one primary contest. While Rep. James Clyburn turns over every stone in South Carolina looking for a Republican conspiracy, and Nate Silver flails about for statistics that will demonstrate anything other than that people who voted for Greene meant to do so, the rest of us can contemplate two pretty obvious possibilities:
1. Whether or not voters knew anything about Alvin Greene, they did know enough about Vic Rawl to vote against him.
2. This illustrates beautifully a paradox of campaign spending. If voters believe that candidates’ spending is largely bankrolled by special interests trying to buy influence, then a candidate who spends nothing is signalling his independence from monied interests. So there’s at least a plausible case for voting for the candidate you’ve never heard of if you prefer unpredictability over predictable business-as-usual.
Update: There’s also this possibility, of course. I would be unsurprised to discover that this woman had also believed that the election of Barack Obama would bring about a fundamental change in the way business is done in Washington.
In case you ever wonder about campaign-spending limits, remember this election. No spending means no information, in which case it helps immeasurably to share a name with a celebrity–or to have union minions canvassing on your behalf.