COLUMBIA, S.C. - The results of the latest Winthrop/ETV Poll, conducted between Feb. 2 and Feb. 17, 2008 (note: no calling was done on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 3) are in. This poll surveyed South Carolinians on issues of importance to them as well as ascertained their impressions of how the federal government and the Bush administration are handling the war in Iraq and other front-burner issues.
The results were released exclusively during the Feb. 21st edition of ETV's "The Big Picture" show at 7:30 p.m.
The Winthrop/ETV Poll was conducted among 722 randomly sampled South Carolinians over the age of 18. It has a margin of error of plus/minus 3.65 percent.
Commenting on the results, Dr. Scott Huffmon, director of the Winthrop/ETV Poll initiative, said, "The poll results show that the general public wants to see troop reductions in Iraq. South Carolina is a bellwether state, and if SC conservatives are saying that is what they want to see, candidates need to pay attention, and realize this sentiment needs to be addressed.
In terms of the economy, there may be a bit of a disconnect as to how South Carolinians feel. They are seeing economic problems more in national terms than as a statewide issue. Given the high unemployment numbers in SC, and the fact that most economists believe we are in a recession, there might be a little bit of denial involved here, especially given the large number of South Carolinians who say they believe their jobs are secure.
As far as a gasoline-tax increase is concerned, while opposition to it is a reflection of a general anti-tax sentiment in the state, what also could be at play is a response to the incredibly high price of gasoline. If we were seeing cheap oil, people would remember the bridge collapse in Minnesota and be willing to absorb a small increase in the gasoline tax to improve our infrastructure."
Among the Winthrop/ETV Poll findings:
• Almost 60 percent of respondents characterized their current financial situation as either excellent or good, with 50 percent saying their financial circumstances as a whole are getting better. This despite the fact that almost 80 percent said that overall, economic conditions in the country are getting worse.
• Over 80 percent of those who were polled said that they can trust the national government to do what is right some of the time, most of the time, or just about always. On the state level, over 90 percent of respondents said they could trust state government to do what is right some of the time, most of the time, or just about always. And on the local level, almost 86 percent said that they can trust their local government to do what is right some of the time, most of the time, or just about always.
• Over 60 percent of respondents oppose a small increase in the gasoline tax for the purpose of improving South Carolina’s roadways and repairing old bridges.
• When asked if the cigarette tax should be increased, and, if so, how should the resulting money be spent, almost 27 percent said there should be no increase whatsoever, while almost 52 percent of those who favored it, targeted offsetting Medicaid costs as how the additional money should be spent.
• Almost 30 percent of respondents said that global warming is mostly the result of natural causes, with almost 28 percent saying the effects of global warming are being exaggerated, or aren’t even real. Still, over 36 percent said the federal government needs to take immediate action to combat global warming.
Among the additional findings:
• Almost 60 percent of South Carolinians felt that the current criminal penalties for both domestic abuse and driving under the influence of alcohol were too lenient.
• Almost one-quarter of those polled said they did not know enough about the issue of school vouchers to either support or oppose them.
• Over 47 percent thought the next president should gradually reduce all troop levels with the eventual goal of complete withdrawal.
• The issue of abortion remains complex for South Carolinians. While over 53 percent believe a woman should be able to obtain a legal abortion in certain circumstances, almost one-quarter of respondents said abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.
• Over half of the respondents disapprove of the way George W. Bush is doing his job as president and his handling of the war in Iraq.