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02/26/2014

Winthrop Poll: U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham Has Support of 45% of Likely Republican Primary Voters

Quick Facts

 While U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s level of support is 45%, Poll Director Scott Huffmon noted Graham is not in “real trouble” simply because his share is below the 50% run-off threshold.
 This Winthrop Poll, which is partially underwritten by the John C. West Forum at Winthrop, contains a significant number of social questions.

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Scott Huffmon
February 2014 Winthrop Poll of Likely GOP Primary Voters

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham Has Support of 45% of Likely Republican Primary Voters, Though 35% Remain Undecided
Challengers to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham Receive Single-Digit Support
Nearly 73% Approve of U.S. Sen. Tim Scott's Performance
Likely Republican Voters Object to Children Born Out of Marriage, 63% - One in Five Support Marijuana Usage
Interracial Marriage is Acceptable by Almost ¾ of GOP Likely Voters
President Obama’s Disapproval Rating By GOP Voters is at 93%
Nine Out of 10 likely GOP Voters Disapprove of Congress
S.C. Gov. Haley Viewed Positively By 78% of Likely GOP Voters

ROCK HILL, S.C. - The results of the latest Winthrop Poll of 901 likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina are in. The survey was in the field from Feb. 16-23, 2014.

After weights (for sex, age, and race) have been applied, results which use all respondents have a margin of error of approximately +/- 3.2% at the 95% confidence level. Results that use less than the full sample will naturally have a higher margin of error.

While U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s level of support is 45%, Poll Director Scott Huffmon noted Graham is not in “real trouble” simply because his share is below the 50% run-off threshold. The vast majority of undecided could be distributed to the other candidates and, assuming Graham gets some share, it could easily be enough to put him over 50%, the political science professor noted.

However, Huffmon said, the fact that S.C.’s senior senator does not have significantly higher than the threshold means this race is not “completely safe” for him, either. While his support among those who approve of the Tea Party is roughly 25% lower than his support among the likely GOP primary voters as a whole, Graham still garners roughly a third of their support. While Tea Party approving voters like Graham much less than all likely voters, it is simply not accurate to say all Tea Party friendly voters are aligned against him.

The poll also gauged the support of Graham's challengers, which ranges from 2.9 to 8.5 %: S.C. Sen. Lee Bright of Spartanburg, Easley businessman Richard Cash, Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor and Charleston public relations executive Nancy Mace. Det Bowers announced he wanted to run and has filed paperwork with the FEC which would allow him to raise money, but by the time this survey was programmed, he had not raised any money and, therefore, was not included in the list of candidates.

Bright’s support increases by almost 62% when looking at Tea Party approving likely voters, as opposed to all likely voters. Huffmon said this is clearly a place where support for Bright, and opposition to Graham, can be mined. The other candidates likely suffer from a lack of statewide name recognition, a situation that may begin to change as the official filing date - March 16 - approaches. Finally, if not all the candidates who have currently announced choose to actually file, Huffmon said, these numbers could shift.

This Winthrop Poll, which is partially underwritten by the John C. West Forum at Winthrop, contains a significant number of social questions. The October 2013 Winthrop Poll asked similar questions of all South Carolinians, while this February Winthrop Poll contains the opinions of just likely GOP primary voters.

For additional information on methodology, see this link.
For the questions and responses, see this link.

Other Winthrop Poll findings include:

• Respondents have very negative feelings toward President Barack Obama, 65%; and positive or somewhat positive views toward U.S. House Majority Leader John Boehner, 37%, and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC, 69%. In this red state, the S.C. Republican Party is held in higher esteem than the National Republican Party. Former U.S. Sen.Jim DeMint, who resigned early and is now the head of the policy organization, the Heritage Foundation, received a 73% positive or somewhat positive reaction.

• More than half of the likely GOP voters have good feelings toward the Tea Party, overwhelmingly positive feelings regarding Christians (86%), but are less favorable to Jews (62%) and far less to Muslims (12%).

Congress is poorly regarded by nearly 90% of the likely GOP voters, while President Obama has a little higher disapproval rating at 93%.

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley continues to tick up in approval ratings. GOP likely voters gave Haley high marks with a 78% approval rating.

• Regarding the S.C. General Assembly, 53% of respondents gave the lawmakers a thumbs up. Nearly 2 in 10 were not sure.

• Support for the Tea Party movement among the GOP voters is at 57%, while a quarter of respondents aren't familiar enough with the group to have an opinion. 12% said they considered themselves a Tea Party member (see Interpretation Note under T9).

• Nearly every respondent (95%) said our nation is headed in the wrong direction, although 67% think the Palmetto State is on the right track.

• Only 20% of the likely GOP voters thought presidential candidate Newt Gingrich could have beaten the incumbent Barack Obama if Gingrich had won the Republican presidential nomination. South Carolina picked Gingrich in the GOP primary over eventual nominee Mitt Romney.

• Sixty-two % of respondents said they felt that generations of slavery and discrimination do NOT make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class.

• Poll respondents for this February 2014 poll were split almost evenly between men and women. Nearly 80% of respondents are older than 45, overwhelmingly white (95%), Protestant (84%) who pray several times a day (60%) and a majority who describe themselves as Evangelical or “born again.” 71% of Protestant respondents described themselves as Evangelical or “born again.”

• Likely GOP voters are more conservative than S.C.'s general population. In the October 2013 Winthrop Poll, nearly half of S.C. residents said having a child without being married is acceptable; 83% said interracial marriage between whites and blacks is acceptable, though more blacks agreed than whites; and around 42% said smoking marijuana by adults was acceptable. In this February 2014 Winthrop Poll, 63% likely GOP voters found it unacceptable to have children out of wedlock; 73% said marriage between whites and blacks was acceptable; and only 22% said adults smoking marijuana was acceptable.

For more information or to set up an interview with Poll Director Scott Huffmon, contact Judy Longshaw, news and media services manager, at 803/323-2404 or e-mail her at longshawj@winthrop.edu.

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