The state senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to have the flag removed from the statehouse grounds two days ago. The Republican-dominated house is debating the bill today, together with a mess of amendments designed to slow the process down. Evidently Haley herself felt obliged to go to the capitol to pitch the caucus on voting for removal.
Is the outcome now in doubt? Hmmmm:
Republican House members said they spent some of their lunch break from the Confederate flag debate listening to an emotional plea from Gov. Nikki Haley.
The Republican governor asked them to pass the Senate bill that would remove the flag from the Capitol grounds.
It was the second closed-door meeting for GOP members on Wednesday. It came after three hours of debate.
Rep. Mike Pitts, who is offering the amendments and slowing down the debate, said he didn’t hear much of what the governor had to say.
“The governor came in and spoke. I was in the back of the room and took my hearing aids out,” Pitts said.
Two closed-door meetings on a bill which, according to a Post and Courier whip count taken two weeks ago, already had enough votes in the house to pass? Double hmmmm. Follow that last link and you’ll see that there were barely enough yeses as of late June to meet the two-thirds threshold needed in the house. If even a few lawmakers have flipped since then, the whole effort could fail.
And there’s reason to think some flips might have happened. As the rhetoric has shifted from removing the flag at the South Carolina capitol to possibly removing other Confederate monuments to purging the Apple app store of Civil-War-themed games to eventually sending “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “Gone With the Wind” down the cultural memory hole, some old-fashioned overreach and ensuing backlash might be brewing. There’s anecdotal evidence here and there supporting that — a county in Florida, for instance, that had removed the Confederate flag after the Charleston shooting now has it flying again — but the best data comes from today’s new Gallup poll, which shows the public almost evenly split, 47/46, on whether it’s acceptable for southern states to display the flag on government property. When YouGov asked people on June 25 if they approved or disapproved of the flag being displayed on government property, the split was 20/65. When CNN asked a week later if the flag should be removed from government property (not including museums), the split was 55/43. We’ve gone from +45 opposed to the flag to +12 to -1 in the span of 14 days, as the shock of the Charleston massacre has receded and the anti-flag movement has revved up.
The numbers among Republicans are dramatic too. In the YouGov poll, GOPers split 30/53 against displaying the flag on government property. A week later, though, they opposed removing the flag in CNN’s poll by a 39/60 margin. Today, per Gallup, they say it’s acceptable for the flag to be displayed on government property by a margin of 67/27. Presumably that’s why Haley’s at the capitol today to make her pitch. If the national numbers are changing that quickly, Republican lawmakers in deep red South Carolina must be getting an earful from constituents. The longer this drags on (as the amendments filed to the bill aim to do), the more defectors there are likely to be. Unlike the state senate vote, there may be real suspense in the house tally.
Via PJM, in case you missed it yesterday, here’s overreach in action.