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Same-Sex Marriage Ads Run, But Don't Lead To Victory, In South Carolina

Ads focused on same-sex couples' marriage rights trailed only those about government spending and jobs for Tuesday's primary. Neither of the two candidates headed to the April 2 run-off mentioned the topic, though.

Posted on March 20, 2013, at 12:43 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — In what could be bad news for opponents of marriage equality, while same-sex marriage ads ranked third to those based on government spending and jobs in South Carolina's Republican primary this week, neither of the top of candidates had much to say about the topic on the airwaves.

In fact, neither former Gov. Mark Sanford or former Charleston County councilman Curtis Bostic ran a single ad on the issue of same-sex couples' marriage rights, a stark fact given the issue's dominance in the South for more than a decade.

When South Carolina voters passed an amendment banning same-sex couples' marriages in 2006, 78 percent of voters approved the measure. Only voters in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee passed amendments by a higher percentage.

Sanford and Bostic will now face one another in an April 2 run-off to determine who will face Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch on May 7. The analysis of the TV ads that aired in the run up to Tuesday's primary comes from CMAG, a nonpartisan research group that tracks political and advocacy advertising.

All of the Republican candidates ran ads that focused on the budget and government spending, but the only candidate who didn't lead with the issue — Teddy Turner, who ran more ads on the overall economy — came in fourth. CMAG's analysis shows that more than 78 percent of the ads that ran in the primary focused on government budget and spending issues.

Half of the candidates ran ads that focused on same-sex couples' marriage rights, but only one of those candidates, state Sen. Larry Grooms, came in the top half of the finishers Tuesday. He came in third, conceding to Bostic Wednesday morning.