SC Republicans to Graham: Drop Out

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s newest South Carolina poll finds a clear message for Lindsey Graham from Republican voters in the state: drop out. 78% of GOP primary voters think Graham should end his Presidential bid, compared to only 15% who think he should continue on with it.

The campaign has generally hurt Graham’s image in the state. When we polled South Carolina in February, 54% of Republican primary voters approved of the job he was doing as Senator to 29% who disapproved. Now his numbers are upside down with only 36% approving of him to 51% who disapprove. Graham was in a tie for 3rd place at 13% in February, now he’s dropped down to a four way tie for 8th place at 3%. And perhaps most embarrassing given their long running feud South Carolina Republicans say that if they had to choose between Graham and Donald Trump, they would pick Trump by a 72/20 spread.

Of course Graham isn’t the only person getting blown out by Trump. Trump leads the field in the state with 37% to 21% for Ben Carson with no one else even polling in double digits. Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz are at 6%, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, and Marco Rubio are at 4%, Graham, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, and Scott Walker are at 3%, and Rick Santorum is at 2%. Posting negligible support are Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Perry each at 1%, and Jim Gilmore and George Pataki at less than 1%.

Trump is winning with every segment of the GOP electorate- he’s at 47% with moderates, 40% with men, 39% with Evangelicals, 36% with seniors, 36% with younger voters, 34% with women, and 32% with ‘very conservative’ voters. He’s also becoming more broadly acceptable to Republican voters. 64% have a favorable opinion of him to only 28% with an unfavorable one, the best favorability we’ve found for him in any state yet. And when matched head to head with Rubio (58/35), Fiorina (56/32), Walker (59/31), and Bush (66/27), Trump blows them all out of the water.

The one exception to that rule is Carson, who edges out Trump 46/45 head to head. Carson is by far and away the most well liked of the GOP candidates with 74% viewing him favorably to only 14% with a negative opinion. Carson is also the only person to hit double digits as voters’ second choice, with 18% saying he’d be their back up pick.

Other notes:

-The South Carolina poll reinforces what we learned about Donald Trump’s supporters nationally last week. 69% of his voters believe Barack Obama is a Muslim, and only 22% think he was born in the United States. Additionally 59% of Trump voters disapprove of Presidential candidates speaking Spanish to Hispanic audiences, compared to only 26% who think that’s alright. Additionally 64% of Trump supporters are opposed to the renaming of Mount McKinley to just 21% who support it.

-Trump’s supporters aren’t that far off from the GOP mainstream on any of those issues though. 60% of primary voters think President Obama is a Muslim, 12% a Christian. 26% think President Obama was born in the United States, 50% think he was not. (40% think Ted Cruz was born in the United States.) 40% approve of Presidential candidates speaking Spanish to Hispanic audiences, 44% do not. And 58% oppose the renaming of Mount McKinley, only 21% support it.

-Jeb Bush’s favorability rating with South Carolina Republicans has dropped a net 44 points since February, from +25 at 52/27 to -19 at 33/52. Bush is particularly struggling with ‘very conservative’ voters, posting a 26/64 favorability with them. But he’s not doing well with moderates (40/43) or ‘somewhat conservative’ voters (39/44) either. Those favorability numbers are starting to resemble Chris Christie’s. Only 3% of ‘very conservative’ voters support Bush for the nomination. Bush’s support has declined from 19% to 6% in the state since the winter.

-Losing support at a similar rate is Scott Walker, who had 18% in February and is now down to just 3%. Only 21% of voters support Walker’s proposed wall on the US border with Canada, to 60% who are opposed to it. Even among Walker’s own supporters only 19% support the Canadian wall to 40% against it. If there’s good news for Walker it’s that he does at least still have a decent favorability rating at 46/26.

-Even though they’re well back in the horse race Mike Huckabee (55/30), Carly Fiorina (54/22), Marco Rubio (53/29), and Ted Cruz (52/27) are all at least seen favorably by a majority of GOP voters. That could leave them in position to make a move if Trump and/or Carson ever come crashing back down to earth. Cruz is the only candidate besides Carson who was included in our February poll to grow his support since then, from 3% to 6%.

-Rand Paul with a 28/52 favorability rating continues his string of being under water in every place we’ve polled since the first Republican debate. Chris Christie at 28/55 has the worst numbers in the field though, and his support has dropped from 7% down to 1%.

On the Democratic side Hillary Clinton leads with 54% to 24% for Joe Biden, 9% for Bernie Sanders, 2% each for Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb, and 1% for Lincoln Chafee. 

This is the worst performance we’ve found for Sanders anywhere in quite a long time, but it speaks to his continued difficulty with African American voters. He gets only 3% with them- well behind Clinton’s 59% and Biden’s 27%- and in a state where a majority of Democratic voters are black that makes it hard for him to do very well.

Biden’s entry into the race would clearly hurt Clinton a lot more than it would hurt Sanders, at least in South Carolina. 49% of Biden supporters say Clinton would be their second choice, to just 12% who say it would be Sanders. Take Biden out of the mix and Clinton would have a 54 point advantage in the state at 66/12.

Biden, with a 74/11 favorability rating, is just as popular as Clinton who comes in at 74/15. But there are still substantially more Democrats who want Clinton as the nominee. She’s at 64% with ‘very liberal’ voters, 59% with African Americans, 57% with men,  56% with seniors, 53% with ‘somewhat liberal’ voters, and 52% with women. The groups who she doesn’t hit majority support with are whites (48%), moderates (46), and younger voters (41%).

Full results here

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