PPP's newest South Carolina poll* finds that the state is trending toward being competitive in the Presidential race this year, just like in neighboring Georgia. Donald Trump has only a 2 point lead with 41% to 39% for Hillary Clinton, 5% for Gary Johnson, and 2% for Jill Stein.
The closeness is a function of Democrats being a lot happier with their party's candidate than Republicans are with theirs. Clinton is winning 84% of the Democratic vote, compared to Trump's 77% of the Republican vote. Although neither candidate is well liked by voters in the state Trump's favorability, at 38% positive and 56% negative, comes in slightly worse than Clinton's at 38/55.
Whether Democrats end up winning South Carolina in the Presidential race this fall or not, the generational differences in the state portend well for the party in the decades ahead. Trump is only ahead because of a massive advantage among seniors in the state at 58/30. When you look at everyone in the electorate below the age of 65, Clinton leads Trump 41/36. That suggests the potential for the Palmetto State to become much more of a battleground in the years ahead, just as in migration and the increasing diversity of the electorate has done in Southern states like Virginia and North Carolina.
South Carolinians have progressive stances on a number of key issues going on this year:
-84% of voters in the state support background checks on all gun purchases, to only 10% who are opposed to them. That includes bipartisan support from 86% of Democrats, 83% of independents, and 82% of Republicans.
-Similarly, 81% of voters in the state support barring those on the Terror Watch List from buying guns, to only 10% opposed to that. That includes bipartisan support as well from 85% of Republicans, 79% of Democrats, and 76% of independents.
-77% of voters in the state support increasing the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour to only 13% who think the current level is acceptable, and 8% who would like to eliminate it altogether. 91% of Democrats, 71% of independents, and 67% of Republicans think the minimum wage should at least go up to $10 an hour.
-78% of voters in the state- including 85% of Democrats, 76% of independents, and 73% of Republicans- support allowing student loans to be refinanced at lower rates.
-Finally there's 53/25 support for legislation protecting LGBT South Carolinians from discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations. Voters under 45 support that by an even wider 37 point margin at 58/21, showing the extent to which South Carolina will become more progressive when it comes to LGBT issues in the years ahead.
Finally we polled on attitudes toward the state's major politicians:
-Tim Scott has a 45/28 approval rating and leads Democrat Thomas Dixon 45-28 for reelection.
-Nikki Haley has a 48/39 approval rating, which is down from 56/28 when we last polled it in November.
-Lindsey Graham is South Carolina's least popular politician, with only 30% of voters approving of him to 54% who disapprove. Graham pulls off the trifecta of being unpopular with voters across party lines- he's at 35/54 with Republicans, 29/50 with independents, and 26/57 with Democrats.
*This poll was sponsored by the South Carolina Democratic Party.
Full results here