Winthrop University: Approval Ratings of Government Leaders in Latest Winthrop Poll released in May 2022
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Approval Ratings of Government Leaders in Latest Winthrop Poll released in May 2022

May 25, 2022

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The results indicate how sharply divided South Carolina is, much like the rest of the country, in viewing Democratic President Joe Biden’s win over then President Donald Trump. The disagreement over the certification of the November results continues to cause partisan conflict.
  • As the pandemic lingers and inflation and gas prices rise dramatically, approval ratings for Biden continue to dive in South Carolina.

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Nearly 18 months after the 2020 presidential election, South Carolina residents are evenly divided on whether the election was fair and accurate, according to the latest Winthrop Poll.

The results indicate how sharply divided South Carolina is, much like the rest of the country, in viewing Democratic President Joe Biden’s win over then President Donald Trump. The disagreement over the certification of the November results continues to cause partisan conflict.

Meanwhile, 47% of South Carolina residents said it was a fair election, while 45% said it wasn’t. Of those responding, 85% of Democratic responders said it was fair, while 77% of Republicans said it wasn’t.

Winthrop Poll Director Scott Huffmon noted that, “Belief, or at least desire to publicly express belief, in the premise that the outcome of the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent remains a major partisan point of division. While no widespread fraud was found, it remains a touchstone of Republican identity in South Carolina to vocally express doubt.”

As the pandemic lingers and inflation and gas prices rise dramatically, approval ratings for Biden continue to dive in South Carolina. While his national approval rating is at a record low of 39%, his approval rating among South Carolina residents who expressed an opinion is at 32%. Additionally, 68% who expressed an opinion said they disapproved of Biden’s performance. As for Trump, a little over half of S.C. residents gave him a favorable rating, while 83% of Democrats gave Trump an unfavorable nod.

However, the former president remains popular with those who self-identify as Republicans, 89% of whom view him favorably.

For other Palmetto state leaders, here are their ratings:

* Republican Governor Henry McMaster, 55% approval rating by those who expressed an opinion. More than 80% of GOP respondents approved of him, while 88% of Democrats do not.
* U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) registered a 58% disapproval rating among the general public, but a 65% approval rating among self-identified Republicans.
* Junior U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) has a 66% approval rating among the general public and an 89% approval rating among Republicans.
* Former Republican Governor Nikki Haley received a 63% favorable rating from all respondents, while a little more than half of Democrats viewed her as unfavorable. She remains extremely popular with self-identified SC Republicans with a favorable rating of 82%.

Race continues to be a divisive issue in America
South Carolina is no exception. Eighty percent of white poll respondents said they have not been discriminated against in the past year based on their race, while 43% of black respondents said they were.

Expressing political opinions is also not popular: nearly half of residents said they did not share their opinions out of fear of being verbally attacked or harassed. Republicans tended to feel this way more than Democrats.

Huffmon noted, “Cancel culture is alive and well in the minds of South Carolina Republicans. Half of self-identified Republicans noted that they were afraid to publicly express their political opinions out of fear of harassment compared to only 37% of Democrats.”

Concerning critical race theory, 62% were familiar with its public debates and discussions. Of those, 44% said they were in favor of proposed laws that would forbid teaching anything related to critical race theory in the public schools. Almost 70% of Republicans favored proposed laws, while 80% of Democrats opposed it. And half of white respondents favored the ban, while 65% of black residents opposed it.

According to Huffmon, “Critical race theory is a topic that demonstrates that racially related issues have become more polarizing on the basis of partisanship than even on the basis of race itself.”

When the topic of Confederate Memorials is brought up, there are mixed opinions about whether to leave them in place. Only a third of all respondents said to leave alone the memorials to Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War. Around a fourth of residents said to add a marker for context, while 30% said to move them to a museum. Half of black residents said to move them to a museum.

The Confederate battle flag reminds 43% of S.C. residents of white supremacy and conflict. Half of white respondents said the flag is more a symbol of Southern pride, while 70% of black respondents attributed the flag to feelings of racial conflict.

This year will be the first election using the updated 2020 Census data and the redrawn electoral districts for Congress, the State House and Senate. Only a third of residents think the districts were redrawn in a fair manner, and another third don’t know. Republicans have more confidence in the process than Democrats but even 44% of Republicans said they weren’t sure.

Methodology and Funding

For this latest Winthrop Poll of the South Carolina general population, callers spoke to 817 South residents. Phone calls were made between April 2-24 primarily during weekday evenings, all day Saturday, and Sunday afternoon and evening and were made in English. Results have a margin of error of +/- 3.4% at the 95% confidence level. The Center for Public Opinion & Policy Research often works on multiple projects at once. Since this poll was allowed to stay in the field longer than usual, efforts were made to offer only questions about on-going issues that would not be expected to shift dramatically over the time of the survey.

For full methodology, see Current Poll Methodology.

The Winthrop Poll is paid for by Winthrop University. For additional information, or to set up an interview with Poll Director Scott Huffmon, please contact Judy Longshaw at longshawj@winthrop.edu or 803/323-2404 (office) or 803/984-0586 (cell).

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Last Updated: 8/15/22