South Carolinians Support Removal of Flag, Want Tougher Gun Laws

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s newest South Carolina poll finds that voters in the state strongly support the decision to take down the Confederate flag at the state capital. Only 33% still think the flag should be flying, compared to 54% who agree with taking it down. There has been a 31 point shift on the margin on this issue over the last six months- in February when we polled on it 50% of voters supported flying it and just 40% were opposed.

The flag issue may be a big contributor to an unusual shift in Nikki Haley’s approval numbers. At first glance they’re quite similar to where they were earlier in the year- she has a positive 53/35 rating now, and she had a positive 51/38 rating in February. But when you dig into the numbers, who approved of her then and who approves of her now has changed quite a bit. In the winter she had a -54 approval rating with Democrats at 17/71, now it’s just -6 at 39/45. She’s even on slightly positive ground with African Americans at 44/39. But her numbers with Republicans have gone in the other direction- in the winter she was at +61 with them at 76/15, now it’s just +42 at 67/25.

It seems likely her leadership on removing the Confederate flag has caused these shifts. Democrats, 12/77, overwhelmingly agree with Haley that the flag should not be on display. But Republicans, 49/39, still wish it was flying and her support for getting rid of it probably antagonized some voters in her party base.

While Haley has pretty solid approval numbers, there is not much support from her constituents for her to go on the national ticket next year. Only 22% of voters would like to see her as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, compared to 60% who don’t think she should be. There’s partisan agreement on that front with 68% of Democrats, 60% of independents, and 52% of Republicans saying they don’t think she should be the VP choice.

In addition to the shift in opinion on the Confederate flag following the Charleston shooting, there’s also strong bipartisan support for a couple of pieces of gun related legislation. 89% of voters in the state support background checks on all gun purchases, compared to only 7% who are opposed. That includes 91% of Republicans, 90% of Democrats, and 85% of independents in favor of that. And 77% think there should be a waiting period before purchasing a gun to only 11% opposed with that receiving support from 86% of Democrats, 75% of Republicans, and 67% of independents.

Other notes from South Carolina:

-66% of voters in the state generally think there needs to be an increase in the minimum wage, to only 30% opposed to that. 87% of Democrats, 60% of independents, and 53% of Republicans support moving that up. 71% think the increase should be to at least $10 an hour with 89% of Democrats, 65% of independents, and 61% of Republicans favoring at least going up to that threshold.

-62% of voters in the state support Medicaid Expansion, to only 28% who are opposed. Democrats (85/9) and independents (60/33) are firmly in favor of it, as are a narrow plurality of Republicans (46/42).

-One thing pretty much all South Carolinians agree on is the need to invest more in fixing the state’s roads- 86% of voters share that sentiment to only 8% who disagree. One way of securing additional funds that voters support is allowing casinos in the state. In general 46% of voters are in favor of that to just 37% who are opposed, and when you specifically ask if people would support casinos if the revenue went toward fixing the roads support goes up to 51% with opposition remaining steady at 37%.

-62% of South Carolinians support the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan to only 31% opposed to it. We’ve found this proposal to be very popular nationally and in key battleground states, but the 2:1 support for it even in a pretty red state really hits home how broad its popularity is. 80% of Democrats, 59% of independents, and even 50% of Republicans are behind it in the Palmetto State.

-57% of South Carolinians think the state spends too little money on public education to 20% who think it spends about the right amount and only 12% who think it spends too much. 

-When it comes to college sports loyalties in the state, the Gamecocks continue to reign supreme. 45% of voters say they’re South Carolina fans to just 27% for Clemson.

-Myrtle Beach edges out Charleston 38/37 as the preferred coastal destination of South Carolinians with Hilton Head lagging behind at 15%. There is a large party divide on the issue with Republicans going for Charleston 44/33, but with Democrats’ 50/26 preference for Myrtle Beach so overwhelming that it puts MB slightly ahead overall.

Full results here

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