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Current Findings

April 2022 Winthrop Poll

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

NOTE: this is a general population poll, not a poll of just registered voters or likely voters.

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, and 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).

 

Results

Cell entries represent percent responding as indicated. Columns may not sum to 100 due to rounding.
REMINDER: this is a general population poll, not just registered voters or likely voters.

Tables 1&2: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as President of the United States?

 

All Respondents

Those Expressing an Opinion

Approve

28

32

Disapprove

59

68

Not Sure

9

 

Refused

3

 

 

 

Republicans

(not including leaners)

Democrats

(not including leaners)

All

Those Expressing an Opinion

All

Those Expressing an Opinion

Approve

5

6

79

85

Disapprove

92

94

13

15

Not Sure

2

 

6

 

Refused

1

 

2

 

 

Tables 3&4: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Henry McMaster is handling his job as Governor of South Carolina?

 

All Respondents

Those Expressing an Opinion

Approve

44

55

Disapprove

35

45

Not Sure

16

 

Refused

5

 

 

 

Republicans

(not including leaners)

Democrats

(not including leaners)

All

Those Expressing an Opinion

All

Those Expressing an Opinion

Approve

69

81

20

22

Disapprove

16

19

69

88

Not Sure

12

 

6

 

Refused

3

 

5

 

 

Tables 5&6: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Lindsey Graham is handling his job as a United States Senator for South Carolina?

 

All Respondents

Those Expressing an Opinion

Approve

35

42

Disapprove

50

58

Not Sure

12

 

Refused

4

 

 

 

Republicans

(not including leaners)

Democrats

(not including leaners)

All

Those Expressing an Opinion

All

Those Expressing an Opinion

Approve

58

65

14

15

Disapprove

31

35

78

85

Not Sure

9

 

5

 

Refused

2

 

3

 

 

Tables 7&8: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Tim Scott is handling his job as a United States Senator for South Carolina?

 

All Respondents

Those Expressing an Opinion

Approve

50

66

Disapprove

26

34

Not Sure

20

 

Refused

4

 

 

 

Republicans

(not including leaners)

Democrats

(not including leaners)

 

All

Those Expressing an Opinion

All

Those Expressing an Opinion

Approve

72

89

25

31

Disapprove

9

11

56

69

Not Sure

19

 

14

 

Refused

1

 

6

 

 

Tables 9&10: Would you say that your view of former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley is generally favorable or unfavorable?

      Would you say very or somewhat [favorable/unfavorable]?

 

All Respondents

Combined

Very Favorable

33

63

Somewhat Favorable

30

Somewhat Unfavorable

17

29

Very Unfavorable

12

Refused

9

9

 

 

Republicans

(not including leaners)

Democrats

(not including leaners)

 

All Respondents

Combined

All Respondents

Combined

Very Favorable

58

82

10

39

Somewhat Favorable

24

29

Somewhat Unfavorable

9

14

30

53

Very Unfavorable

5

23

Refused

4

4

8

8

 

Tables 11&12: Would you say that your view of Donald Trump is generally favorable or unfavorable?

      Would you say very or somewhat [favorable/unfavorable]?

 

All Respondents

Combined

Very Favorable

34

53

Somewhat Favorable

19

Somewhat Unfavorable

11

44

Very Unfavorable

33

Refused

3

3

 

 

Republicans

(not including leaners)

Democrats

(not including leaners)

 

All Respondents

Combined

All Respondents

Combined

Very Favorable

64

89

5

15

Somewhat Favorable

25

10

Somewhat Unfavorable

4

10

9

83

Very Unfavorable

6

74

Refused

2

2

1

1

 

Table 13: In the past year, do you feel that you have been discriminated against because of your race or ethnicity?

 

All Respondents

White Respondents

Black Respondents

Yes

27

19

43

No

72

80

57

Not Sure

1

1

1

Refused

0

1

--

 

Table 14: In the past year, has there been a time when you felt that you could not express your political opinions out of fear of being verbally attacked or harassed?

 

All Respondents

Republicans

(not including leaners)

Democrats

(not including leaners)

Yes

46

50

37

No

52

50

62

Don’t Know/ Refused

2

--

1

 

Table 15: Are you familiar with the public debates and discussions surrounding what is known as “Critical Race Theory” or “CRT”?

 

All Respondents

Republicans

(not including leaners)

Democrats

(not including leaners)

Yes

62

60

58

No

34

36

38

Don’t Know/ Refused

4

4

4

 

Table 16&17: ONLY AMONG THOSE WHO REPORTED BEING FAMILIAR WITH THE CRT DEBATE

Several laws have been proposed in South Carolina that would forbid teaching anything related to Critical Race Theory in public schools. Would you favor or oppose such a law?

 

All Respondents

Republicans

(not including leaners)

Democrats

(not including leaners)

Favor

44

69

12

Oppose

48

28

80

Not Sure

7

3

6

Refused

2

1

2

 

 

White Respondents

Black Respondents

Favor

51

23

Oppose

42

65

Not Sure

6

10

Refused

1

2

 

Table 18: Which of the following comes closest to your opinion about what to do with monuments or memorials to Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War?

 

All Respondents

White respondents

Black respondents

Leave them just as they are

36

43

19

Leave them, but add a plaque or marker for context and historical interpretation

23

28

11

Move them to a museum

30

21

52

Remove them completely

8

5

15

Don’t Know

2

1

2

Refused

2

1

2

 

Table 19: Some people say the confederate battle flag reminds them of white supremacy and racial conflict. Other people say the confederate battle flag is a symbol of southern heritage and pride.

Do you think the flag is more a symbol of racial conflict or of southern pride?

 

All Respondents

White Respondents

Black Respondents

Racial Conflict

43

32

70

Southern Pride

41

52

17

Equally Both*

8

8

6

Don’t Know/Not Sure

4

5

2

Refused

4

3

5

                                *Equally both was only coded if respondent said "both" a second time after prompted.

Table 20: Do you believe that the results of the 2020 Presidential election were fair and accurate?

 

All Respondents

Republicans

(not including leaners)

Democrats

(not including leaners)

Yes

47

18

85

No

45

77

10

Not Sure

6

5

3

Refused

2

0

2

 

Table 21: As you may know, after every Census, electoral districts are redesigned in order to reflect any changes in the population. This happens for all Congressional districts as well as districts for State House and State Senate.

2022 will be the first election using the newly drawn districts from the 2020 Census. Do you believe the electoral districts in South Carolina were redrawn in a fair manner?

 

All Respondents

Republicans

(not including leaners)

Democrats

(not including leaners)

Yes

36

41

31

No

24

14

42

Don’t Know

36

44

24

Refused

4

2

3

 

The data in Figures 1 and 2 come from questions known as "Feeling Thermometer" questions. A Feeling Thermometer is simply another way of asking people whether they like or dislike a person, group, or object by asking them to rate the person, group or object on a scale of 0 - 100. "Ratings between 50 degrees and 100 degrees mean that you feel favorable and warm toward" the person, group, or object and "[r]atings between 0 degrees and 50 degrees mean that you don't feel favorable toward the [person/group/object] and that you don't care too much for" them. A score of 50 means neither like nor dislike the person/group/object. The scores presented are the average for the designated group.

Figure 1:

Feeling Thermometer Scores by Party

Figure 2:

Feeling Thermometer Scores by Race

The Feeling Thermometer scores for "People who fly the confederate flag" and "Black Lives Matter" deserve additional analysis. As expected there is a significant difference between Blacks and Whites in how much they like or dislike these groups (although, note, both the average scores for Blacks and Whites rate those who fly the confederate flag as below 50). However, the gap between Democrats and Republicans is even greater. The difference between Blacks and Whites regarding people who fly the confederate flag is 17.55 and the gap for Black Lives Matter is 26.4. Both are sizeable gaps. However, the gaps between Republicans and Democrats are 36.23 for those who fly the confederate flag and an astounding 47.84 for Black Lives Matter. The only gaps that are larger come from Republicans' and Democrats' views of each other. That partisan polarization over racial issues is greater than racial polarization over racial issues is an eye opening, although perhaps not astonishing, finding.

See the April 2022 Winthrop Poll questionnaire for the full survey.

Last Updated: 5/25/22