A new poll of South Carolina voters has Donald Trump with a solid lead among Republicans and Hillary Clinton with a majority of Democrats. The Public Policy Polling survey has Trump with 37 percent, followed by Dr. Ben Carson with 21 percent. All of the other Republican candidates are in single digits.
University of South Carolina political scientist and polling expert Dr. Bob Oldendick says it’s significant that the top two candidates for the Republicans have no political experience. “It says that the likely Republican voters that were sampled are really not very happy with traditional politicians and the way things are going,” he says.
After Trump and Carson, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz are tied with 6 percent. Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, and Marco Rubio have 4 percent each. Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, and Scott Walker all got 3 percent. Rick Santorum is at 2 percent, while Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Perry are at 1 percent. Jim Gilmore and George Pataki polled at less than 1 percent.
In the poll, Trump would beat any of the other Republicans in a one-on-one match-up except for Carson. Carson would win a head-to-head contest with Trump by one percentage point, but that’s within the poll’s margin of error so it’s statistically a tie.
Columbia voter Renee Kaur says, “I’m leaning towards Donald Trump because I want him to take over and clean this country and bring it back.”
Kimberly Gibson of Lexington is also among those supporting Trump. “I don’t want the same politicians in there, I guess, you know, and I like the businessman kind of thing. He has a lot of sense and we need to get this country back in order.”
But the South Carolina primary is five months away and a lot can happen between now and then, Oldendick says. “I think we’ll see a tremendous amount of change,” he says of the current poll numbers. He says for one thing, the current polls are being driven mostly by personality and name recognition. Once the candidates have to start talking about specific policies, voters may change their minds. And he says some candidates now in the crowded field are also likely to drop out, which will also change the dynamic.
One of the findings of the new poll is that 78 percent of South Carolina Republicans surveyed think Lindsey Graham should give up his presidential campaign.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton gets 54 percent. Vice President Joe Biden is next at 24 percent, despite the fact that he’s not running. Bernie Sanders is next at 9 percent, followed by Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb at 2 percent each. Lincoln Chafee got 1 percent.