Latest Winthrop Poll Shows Trump Holds Steady in S.C.

November 01, 2018

Quick Facts

bullet point Among respondents who lean Republican, Trump has an 83% approval rate, which continues to climb in what is one of the reddest states in the country.
bullet point The 45th president has a disapproval rating of half of Palmetto State citizens.

Scott Huffmon

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA — With less than a week to go until the country's midterm national elections, President Donald Trump's approval rating registers at 44% among South Carolina residents, according to the latest Winthrop Poll of a representative sample of SC adults. (Please note: this is a general population poll, not a likely voter poll and results may not be used to make inferences about any election).

Among respondents who lean Republican, Trump has an 83% approval rate, which continues to climb in what is one of the reddest states in the country. The 45th president has a disapproval rating of half of Palmetto State citizens.

Trump's approval rating among adults in South Carolina has remained in the mid-40 percent over his two years in office.


According to Winthrop Poll director and political scientist, Scott Huffmon, "Trump's approval in South Carolina continues to be higher than his overall national approval ratings. Currently, his approval in S.C. is 4 points higher than his national approval rating of 40 percent (according to Gallup). S.C. Republicans continue to offer their full-throated support of the president."


The Winthrop Poll found that a slight majority of respondents think our country is headed in the wrong direction, but that South Carolina is on the right track.
In this poll and in the April Winthrop Poll, S.C. residents said the most important problems facing our country are immigration, followed by racism, and politicians/government. Those surveyed said the most important issues facing the Palmetto State are, and these same issues keep cropping up: education, roads/bridges/infrastructure, and jobs or unemployment. With this poll, the economy also was in the mix.

Poll respondents were asked if women who complain about sexual harassment cause more problems than they solve, and nearly half strongly disagreed. Nearly 2 out of 3 respondents strongly disagreed that sexual harassment in the workplace is no longer a problem in the U.S. Nearly strongly or somewhat agreed that most women who come forward about sexual harassment are telling the truth. Nearly 80 percent say that innocent men have to be extra careful in order not to be accused of sexual harassment.

Concerning the economy, nearly three fourths of South Carolina residents said our country's economy is very good or fairly good, while the same number of respondents think the condition of the state's economy is either very or fairly good. With the stock market rallying this year and unemployment low, a large majority described their own financial situation as good or excellent and getting better.

With memories of Hurricanes Florence and Michael still fresh from this fall, nearly half those polled said climate change is happening, and the cause is equally shared between humans and nature. Twenty-eight percent said humans are the primary cause.

Huffmon noted, "Many polls force respondents into a single all-or-nothing question on climate change before they are offered the ability to choose a more nuanced response. In this question, respondents can easily choose an option that climate change is not real. However, when presented with the ability to flatly deny climate change or acknowledge it but assign causal blame to either man or mother nature, we see fewer flatly denying that climate change is happening. The greatest divide is whether respondents feel climate change is natural or man-made, not whether it is occurring or not."


S.C. residents give Congress a disapproval rating of 69%. But U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.) who took a lead role in the Senate in the approval of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, was rewarded for going on the attack to help Trump's candidate. That vocal support helped win Graham nods from the GOP where 3/4 of respondents who lean GOP and supported Kavanaugh said they approved of Graham. His ratings in the past have been more tepid.

According to Huffmon, "Graham's new persona as tireless, and occasionally aggressive, cheerleader for the president and his agenda resonates well with the Republican base in South Carolina. Whereas those who identify with the GOP in South Carolina have waxed, and — more frequently in recent times — waned in their support for Graham, his vigorous defense of Judge Kavanaugh and vocal support for President Trump has returned him to the good graces of his party."

Meanwhile, half of Winthrop Poll respondents said they approved of Kavanaugh's nomination and only slightly fewer say their opinion of him was very or somewhat favorable. Huffmon noted, "When it comes to sexual harassment, Kavanaugh supporters are less likely to agree that most women who report harassment are telling the truth and more likely to agree that men must be extra careful to avoid false accusations."

Approval ratings for the state's junior senator, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, (R-S.C.) remain high with the Republican base. He has a 76% approval rating among those who identify as Republicans. Scott's popularity among the general public remains high as well, with 55% reporting approval of the job he is doing.

South Carolina will elect its governor on Nov. 6. The support from the general population for incumbent S.C. Governor Henry McMaster has climbed to 51% from the spring when it was in the mid-40 percent range. His disapproval ratings remain at 29%, with 18% not sure. Elected as the lieutenant governor in 2014, McMaster took over as governor after Trump tapped S.C. Governor Nikki Haley to be the United Nations ambassador.

Poll Director Huffmon said that the Winthrop Poll data should not be used to make predictions about the governor's race because poll callers talked to a representative sample of all South Carolina adults who may or may not even be registered, much less "Likely Voters."

The S.C. General Assembly got an approval nod from 46% of those polled, while 35% disapprove of the job they're doing.


For this latest Winthrop Poll, callers surveyed 674 residents in South Carolina by landline and cell phones between Oct. 20-28. Results which use all respondents have a margin of error of approximately +/- 3.8% at the 95% confidence level. Subgroups have higher margins of error. Margins of error are based on weighted sample size and account for design effects.



The Winthrop Poll is funded by Winthrop University. For additional information, or to set up an interview with Poll Director Scott Huffmon, please contact Judy Longshaw at or 803/984-0586 (cell).

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