Capital Hill’s Roll Call spotlights the 1st Congressional District today with a report that minority voting in the district could have Brown on the ropes.

In a new ballot test done for a Charleston television station, Brown led Ketner 50 percent to 45 percent. The automated SurveyUSA poll, which interviewed 600 likely voters Oct. 25-26, had a 4.1-point margin of error. Among the coastal district’s 21 percent black population, Ketner led the incumbent 7-1, while Brown was ahead with white voters 3-2.

SurveyUSA has never been my favorite product, but there’s so few polls out there, you take what you can get.

Channeling John Berendt’s descriptions in the novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” GOP pollster Whit Ayers said South Carolinian political culture — and Ketner’s chances — comes down to three questions.

“In Greenville, they ask you, ‘Where do you go to church?’”Ayers said. “In Columbia, they ask you, ‘What do you do for a living?’”

“And in Charleston, they ask you, ‘What will you have to drink?’” Ayers continued. “Ketner can be competitive in a ‘What will you have to drink?’ district.”

And, of course, Republican chair Lin Bennett plays the gay card.

Charleston County Republican Chairwoman Lin Bennett predicted that Obama will not do well in the district and doubted that local Democrats — voters she described as ”fairly conservative” — will never pull the lever for the openly gay Ketner.

“That just isn’t going to sell here,” Bennett said. “There is more than usual Democrat support, but I don’t believe that the ideals that she is interested in pursuing will interest the people of the 1st district.”

S.C. GOP Chair Katon Dawson says the campaign should go negative to draw contrasts. The simple fact that an incumbent has to draw contrasts shows how close this race really is.