Proof: An unknown candidate, first on the ballot, can win a major election without campaigning

A very curious case indeed from South Carolina:

An unemployed military veteran has stunned Democratic Pary bosses by winning the nomination to stand for South Carolina’s senate seat – despite not even running a campaign.
Alvin Greene, 32, lives at home with his parents, raised no money and had no campaign website, staff, leaflets or signs.

His opponent Vic Rawl, 64, a veteran South Carolina politician and judge, had been considered certain to get the nomination, only for Greene to win by 59 per cent to 41 per cent.

…The candidate lives in the small, rural town of Manning, South Carolina, and has no mobile phone or computer.

But he still won the chance to represent the state in the US midterm elections in November with more than 100,000 votes.

Confused Democratic officials, most of whom had never even met Greene, put his victory down to his name being first alphabetically on the ballot paper.

The Democrats – the winning candidate’s own party – smell a rat:

James Clyburn, a Democratic US congressman from South Carolina, said election officials should investigate who paid Greene’s $10,400 (£7,000) fee to stand.

He said: “There were some real shenanigans going on. I don’t know if he was a Republican plant. He was someone’s plant.”

There’s a fascinating article in the Washington Post here, based on a three hour interview with Greene. It really is quite extraordinary that he got elected by 100,000 people statewide by only distributing about a “hundred” leaflets and holding a few “informal meetings”.

A further fascinating item is this extraordinary interview with Keith Olbermann. Alvin Greene has been described as “random unemployed dude”.

The only logical explanation for his election win I can surmise is that a) he was first on the ballot paper and b) The “e” on the end of the name “Greene” is allegedly recognised by African Americans as being indicative of someone who is African American.

In fairness, however, Greene does say that he got around the state and spread his message by “word of mouth”. Let’s be fair to the guy. Thousands spend millions of dollars or pounds trying to get elected. Apart from his registration fee, Greene managed to become the Democratic nominee for the US Senate by spending only a few hundred dollars. That’s one hell of an achievement.

Hat-tip: Political Wire

Update: Tom Jensen on Public Policy Polling has some excellent insight on this mystery:

In a contest where both candidates have no name recognition somebody’s going to win and people’s votes are going to be based on pretty random, nonintellectual judgments. I don’t put much stock in the theory that there was a plot among Republican voters to go cast votes for Greene in the primary or that the GOP in some other way helped Greene campaign…it would have been almost impossible for any sort of campaign activity to go completely undetected. At the end of the day this is just what happens in a race where neither candidate runs much of a campaign- someone wins and there’s no great explanation why.