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Current Findings

December 2015 Winthrop Poll of SC Republican Presidential Primary Likely Voters

For methodological questions please read the full Methodology Statement

 

 

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – In the crowded Republican field for president, 24% of the likely Republican voters in South Carolina back real estate tycoon Donald Trump. Seventeen percent remain unsure who they will support in the Feb. 20 primary, according to the latest Winthrop Poll.

The poll came out of the field on Dec. 7, the same day Trump made his controversial stand about enacting a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

In descending order, SC GOP Presidential Primary Likely Voters support:

·         New York tycoon Donald Trump, 24%

·         U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, 16%

·         Neurosurgeon Ben Carson, 14%

·         U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, 11%

·         Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, 9%

·         Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, 2%

·         U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, 2%

·         Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, 2%

·         N.J. Governor Chris Christie, 1%

·         Ohio Governor John Kasich, 1%

·         U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, 1%.

Three candidates – former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, former New York Governor George Pataki and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum – did not register any support. One percent of poll respondents refused to answer the question.

Winthrop Poll Director Dr. Scott Huffmon noted, "Trump leads across multiple categories of voters from a high of 35% among those who wish to create a database of Muslims in the U.S. to a low of 22% among Evangelical Christians, who will make up nearly 60% of the S.C. GOP Presidential Primary electorate. Ted Cruz is tied with Ben Carson at 17% among Evangelicals. This is a significant drop for Carson among Evangelicals.  He registered 33% support among this group in a Monmouth Poll a month ago. It is worth noting that 1 in 5 Evangelicals remain undecided.

“With 25%, Ted Cruz is within the margin of error of Trump’s 27% among those who approve of the Tea Party,” Huffmon continued. “Trump’s support is high among those who express anger - as opposed to frustration or contentment - with the government. He rakes in nearly a third of the angry voters, 9 percentage points higher than Ted Cruz, his nearest rival in this category.”

Poll respondents had a different take on the 14 GOP candidates when asked if they have generally favorable or unfavorable views of them. The front runner Trump received a favorable rating from only half of respondents while 37% said unfavorable and 13% undecided. Here is how others fared in descending order:

·         Ben Carson, 75% favorable, 14% unfavorable

·         Marco Rubio, 66% favorable, 16% unfavorable, 12% undecided

·         Ted Cruz, 59% favorable, 19% unfavorable, 14% undecided

·         Mike Huckabee, 58% favorable, 26% unfavorable, 14% undecided

·         Carly Fiorina, 50% favorable, 22% unfavorable, 12% undecided, 16% not familiar

·         Donald Trump, 49% favorable, 37% unfavorable, 13% undecided, 0% not familiar

·         Jeb Bush, 44% favorable, 41% unfavorable, 13% undecided

·         Chris Christie, 42% favorable, 34% unfavorable, 18% undecided

·         Lindsey Graham, 40% favorable, 51% unfavorable

·         Rick Santorum, 33% favorable, 38% unfavorable, 20% undecided

·         Rand Paul, 27% favorable, 48% unfavorable, 16% undecided

·         John Kasich, 24% favorable, 31% unfavorable, 18% undecided, 28% not familiar

·         George Pataki, 7% favorable, 38% unfavorable, 15% undecided, 39% not familiar

·         Jim Gilmore, 3% favorable, 24% unfavorable, 11% undecided, 61% not familiar

According to Huffmon, “High unfavorable numbers, or – worse – being underwater with higher unfavorable than favorable, means your pool of potential new supporters is smaller than that of your competition.”

For this latest Winthrop Poll, callers surveyed 828 South Carolina residents by landline and cell phones between Nov. 30 and Dec. 7. Results which use all respondents have a margin of error of approximately +/- 3.4% at the 95% confidence level. Subgroups have higher margins of error. Information about the poll methodology can be found here.

South Carolina is important in the GOP process to choose the 45th president because it is the first primary in the South, and it is the first time presidential candidates can be vetted by a variety of conservative voters – those who are in the military or have strong fiscal, social or financial beliefs.

See the questions and responses.

 

Most Important Election Issue

The threat of terrorism stands out as the most important issue for likely Republican voters. A third of respondents said terrorism/ISIS/ISIL/terrorists is key, while the economy and immigration (not refugees), at 13% and 10% respectively, round out the top three issues.

Sixty-one percent of poll respondents said they are frustrated with the federal government; while 35% said they are angry and only 3% basically content. Of the Trump supporters, 52% were frustrated and 47% angry.

“Trump seems to draw a significant amount of his support from those who express anger at the government,” Huffmon observed.

Trump supporters were more likely to favor conducting surveillance of Muslim mosques (80%) and in creating a database of all Muslims in the United States (72%).

Approval Ratings, Religion and Misc.

How do likely GOP voters view their governmental leaders? Here’s a snapshot:

·         President Barack Obama, 93% disapprove

·         Congress, 85% disapprove

·         S.C. Governor Nikki Haley, 81% approve, 84% approval among Tea Party supporters

·         S.C. State Legislature, 54% approve, 28% disapprove, 17% don’t know

·         U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, 76% approve, 81% approve who also favor the Tea Party

·         U.S. Lindsey Graham, 53% approve, 40% disapprove

Huffmon noted, “While some had speculated that Governor Haley’s stand on the Confederate Flag this summer might hurt her with the Republican base, her approval of the S.C. GOP core – likely Republican voters – is as strong, or stronger, than ever.”

“While Senator Graham’s job approval among S.C. GOP likely voters is above 50%, his approval significantly trails that of S.C.’s junior senator, Tim Scott, and Graham’s approval rating among those who approve of the Tea Party is at 47%, a statistical tie with his disapproval numbers from that group,” Huffmon added.

When asked if Christians in America experience discrimination, 46% of poll respondents said they see a great deal of discrimination. Only 17% said little or no and 38% said some discrimination.

Huffmon observed, “Even though Christians make up 71% of Americans and 78% of South Carolinians (source: Pew – ed.), S.C. GOP voters see Christians as the target of discrimination. A seeming siege mentality of Christian values being under attack from the secular world has been a regular feature of modern conservative politics, in general, and this presidential cycle, in particular.”

A third of respondents said Evangelical Christians have the right amount of influence in the Republican Party, while 42% said too little. Of those surveyed, 57% questioned described themselves as “born again” or evangelical Christian.

Sixty-five percent of respondents said marriage between a same-sex couple should not be valid, while 52% said business owners should be allowed to refuse service to gay or lesbian customers. Meanwhile, 70% said doctors should be allowed to prescribe marijuana for medical purposes to treat their patients.

POLL FUNDING AND CONTACT INFORMATION

The Winthrop Poll is paid for by Winthrop University with additional support from 
The West Forum on Politics and Policy at 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).

 

December 2015 Winthrop Poll

 

NOTE: Percentages may not sum to 100 due to rounding

T1  Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as President of the United States?                                                                                

 

All Respondents

Approve

5

Disapprove

93

Don’t Know

2

Refused

0

 

T2  Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job?

 

All Respondents

Approve

10

Disapprove

85

Don’t Know

5

Refused

0

 

T3  Do you approve or disapprove of the way Nikki Haley is handling her job as Governor of South Carolina?

 

All Respondents

Approve of Tea Party

Approve

81

84

Disapprove

13

11

Don’t Know

5

4

Refused

1

1

 

T4  Do you approve or disapprove of the way the South Carolina State Legislature is handling its job?

 

All Respondents

Approve

54

Disapprove

28

Don’t Know

17

Refused

2

 

T5  Do you approve or disapprove of the way Tim Scott is handling his job as a United States Senator for South Carolina?

 

All Respondents

Tea Party Favorable

Approve

76

81

Disapprove

9

6

Don’t Know

14

11

Refused

2

2

 

T6  Do you approve or disapprove of the way Lindsey Graham is handling his job as a United States Senator for South Carolina?

 

All Respondents

Tea Party Favorable

Approve

53

47

Disapprove

40

46

Don’t Know

7

7

Refused

1

1

 

T7  I’m going to read you a list of names of people or things.  For each person or thing, please tell me whether you have a generally favorable or generally unfavorable view of them.  If you are familiar with them, but undecided – or if you are unfamiliar with them – you can tell me that as well.

[Names for Tables T7 – T20 were asked in random order]

  Carly Fiorina

 

All Respondents

Favorable

50

Unfavorable

22

Undecided

12

Not familiar

16

Refused

0

 

T8  Jeb Bush

 

All Respondents

Favorable

44

Unfavorable

41

Undecided

13

Not familiar

2

Refused

0

 

T9  Ben Carson

 

All Respondents

Favorable

75

Unfavorable

14

Undecided

7

Not familiar

4

Refused

0

 

T10  Chris Christie

 

All Respondents

Favorable

42

Unfavorable

34

Undecided

18

Not familiar

6

Refused

0

 

T11  Ted Cruz

 

All Respondents

Favorable

59

Unfavorable

19

Undecided

14

Not familiar

8

Refused

0


T12  Lindsey Graham

 

All Respondents

Favorable

40

Unfavorable

51

Undecided

9

Not familiar

1

Refused

0

 

T13  Mike Huckabee

 

All Respondents

Favorable

58

Unfavorable

26

Undecided

14

Not familiar

3

Refused

0

 

T14  Jim Gilmore

 

All Respondents

Favorable

3

Unfavorable

24

Undecided

11

Not familiar

61

Refused

0

 

T15  George Pataki

 

All Respondents

Favorable

7

Unfavorable

38

Undecided

15

Not familiar

39

Refused

1

 

T16  Rand Paul

 

All Respondents

Favorable

27

Unfavorable

48

Undecided

16

Not familiar

9

Refused

0

 

T17  John Kasich  

 

All Respondents

Favorable

24

Unfavorable

31

Undecided

18

Not familiar

28

Refused

0

 

T18  Marco Rubio

 

All Respondents

Favorable

66

Unfavorable

16

Undecided

12

Not familiar

5

Refused

0

 

T19  Rick Santorum

 

All Respondents

Favorable

33

Unfavorable

38

Undecided

20

Not familiar

9

Refused

0

 

T20  Donald Trump

 

All Respondents

Favorable

49

Unfavorable

37

Undecided

13

Not familiar

0

Refused

0

 

T21(a)  If the Republican Party Primary election for United States President were held today who would you vote for?                                             

 

All Respondents

Approve of Tea Party

Evangelical

Muslim Database

Angry About Gvt

Foreign Pol Issue

Jeb Bush 

9

3

8

8

3

8

Ben Carson

14

14

17

12

14

15

Chris Christie

1

1

1

1

1

1

Ted Cruz

16

25

17

17

23

13

Carly Fiorina

2

2

1

1

1

1

Jim Gilmore

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lindsey Graham

 

2

 

0

 

0

 

2

 

2

 

2

Mike Huckabee

2

2

2

2

1

1

John Kasich

1

1

0

0

0

1

George Pataki

0

0

0

0

0

0

Rand Paul

1

1

1

0

0

0

Marco Rubio

11

9

11

7

11

12

Rick Santorum

0

0

0

0

0

0

Donald Trump

24

27

22

35

32

27

Not sure

17

12

20

14

12

18

Refused

1

2

1

1

1

1

NOTE: “Muslim Database” refers to those who answered “Should” to the question in table T26. “Angry About Gvt” refers to those who answered “Angry” to the question in table T24. “Foreign Pol Issue” are those respondents who answered with any foreign policy related issue when asked what issue was the most important for the 2016 Presidential campaign.

T21(b)  If the Republican Party Primary election for United States President were held today who would you vote for?                                         

 

Evangelical

Not Evangelical

Less than Four Year Degree

Four Year Degree or More

Jeb Bush 

8

10

8

10

Ben Carson

17

10

14

13

Chris Christie

1

3

1

2

Ted Cruz

17

15

15

17

Carly Fiorina

1

2

1

2

Jim Gilmore

0

0

0

0

Lindsey Graham

0

4

3

1

Mike Huckabee

2

1

2

1

John Kasich

0

2

1

1

George Pataki

0

0

0

0

Rand Paul

1

1

1

0

Marco Rubio

11

11

9

13

Rick Santorum

0

0

0

0

Donald Trump

22

26

26

21

Not sure

20

14

17

17

Refused

1

2

1

2

 

T22  What do you think is the most important issue for the 2016 Presidential Election? (Top Three)

 

All Respondents

Terrorism/ISIS/ISIL/Terrorists

34

Economy

13

Immigration (not refugees)

10

 

T23  Would you support or oppose an increase in South Carolina’s gas tax if the money was to be used for repairing roads and transportation infrastructure?

 

All Respondents

Tea Party Favorable

Support

61

53

Oppose

33

43

Not Sure

5

3

Refused

1

1

NOTE: While this question shows that Likely GOP voters may support an increase in the gas tax in the abstract and when the tax is tied to road repair, previous polling shows that when you add a specific monetary amount – ANY specific monetary amount per gallon – support drops significantly.  In public opinion research, we sometimes refer to things like this as opinions being “unconstrained” – meaning a respondent may express preference for mutually exclusive things (For example, people often want more data on their cell phone plans AND lower rates).  In this instance, while no one likes taxes, respondents will accept it in the abstract to repair roads, BUT past polling shows that when respondents have a concrete amount that they know will affect their wallet (“x cents per gallon”), support tends to fall.

 

T24  Some people say they are basically content with the federal government, others say they are frustrated, and others say they are angry. Which of these best describes how you feel?

 

All Respondents

Trump Supporters

Basically Content

3

1

Frustrated

61

52

Angry

35

47

Not sure

1

1

Refused

0

0

 

T25  Do you believe that the government should or should not conduct surveillance of Muslim mosques?

 

All Respondents

Trump Supporters

Should

67

80

Should NOT

23

11

Not Sure 

8

7

Refused 

3

1

                                           

T26  Do you believe that the government should or should not create a database of all Muslims in the United States?

 

All Respondents

Trump Supporters

Should

48

72

Should NOT

42

24

Not Sure 

7

4

Refused 

3

1

                              

T27  Would you say that you think Christians in America today experience little or no discrimination, some discrimination, or a great deal of discrimination?

 

All Respondents

Little or No                                                               

17

Some                                                                        

38

Great deal                                                                

46

Not sure

0

Refused                                                                   

0

 

T28  Do you think marriages between same-sex couples SHOULD or should NOT be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as a marriage between a man and a woman?

 

All Respondents

Should be valid                                                      

28

Should not be valid                                               

65

Not Sure                                                                    

4

Refused                                                                     

3

 

T29  Do you think business owners SHOULD or SHOULD NOT be allowed to refuse service to gay or lesbian customers

 

All Respondents

Should be allowed to refuse service

52

Should NOT be allowed to refuse service         

40

Not Sure                                                                    

5

Refused                                                                     

2

 

T30  Do you think doctors should or should not be allowed to prescribe marijuana for medical purposes to treat their patients?

 

All Respondents

Should                                                                     

70

Should NOT                                                            

22

Not Sure                                                                    

7

Refused                                                                     

1

 

T31  Do you think evangelical Christians have too much influence, too little influence, or the right amount of influence in the Republican Party today?

 

All Respondents

Too Much                                                                

15

Too little                                                                   

42

Right Amount

33

Not Sure                                                                    

7

Refused                                                                     

2

 

T32  In general, would you say you approve or disapprove of the Tea Party movement or are you not familiar enough with the Tea Party movement to have an opinion?

 

All Respondents

Approve                                                                   

47

Disapprove                                                              

17

Not Sure / Not Familiar Enough

36

Refused                                                                     

1

 

T33  Would you consider yourself a MEMBER of the Tea Party Movement?

 

All Respondents

Yes

11

No

85

Not Sure                                                                    

4

Refused                                                                     

0

                                                                                              

T34  Would you describe yourself as a "born again" or evangelical Christian, or not?

 

All Respondents

Yes

57

No

23

Not Sure

2

Not Protestant Christian

 

17

Refused

1

  

 

T35  Do you believe that immigrants do or do not take jobs away from US citizens?

 

All Respondents

Approve of Tea Party

Muslim Database

Angry About Gvt

Trump Supporter

Do

62

71

74

70

73

Do NOT

33

25

22

25

23

Not Sure

4

4

4

4

4

Refused

0

0

0

0

0

 

T36  Do you believe that most people in America are or are not afraid to say what they think for fear that someone might say that they are offended?

 

All Respondents

Approve of Tea Party

Muslim Database

Angry About Gvt

Trump Supporter

Do

75

82

80

79

79

Do NOT

21

15

17

19

18

Not Sure

3

3

2

3

2

Refused

0

0

0

0

0

 

T37  Would you say that you think Whites in America today experience little or no discrimination, some discrimination, or a great deal of discrimination?

 

All Respondents

Approve of Tea Party

Muslim Database

Angry About Gvt

Trump Supporter

Little or No

23

20

18

15

14

Some

54

54

51

55

52

Great deal

20

24

28

27

33

Not sure

2

2

2

3

1

Refused

1

0

1

1

1

 

T38  Would you say that whites in America face less discrimination, about the same amount of discrimination, or more discrimination as blacks in America?

 

All Respondents

Approve of Tea Party

Muslim Database

Angry About Gvt

Trump Supporter

Less

41

37

32

31

28

About the same

36

39

41

38

42

More

17

20

21

23

26

Not Sure

4

4

4

6

3

Refused

1

0

2

2

1

 

 

 

See full methodology page for more info.

###

Contact Information:
Judy Longshaw
803/323-2402 (office)
803/984-0586 (cell)

The Winthrop Poll is paid for by Winthrop University with additional support from The West Forum on Politics and Policy at Winthrop University.

For additional information, or to set up an interview with Dr. Scott Huffmon, please contact Judy Longshaw at longshawj@winthrop.edu or 803/323-2404.

Note: Winthrop University, located in Rock Hill, S.C., is a nationally recognized public university offering graduate and undergraduate degrees to an inclusive, international student body.
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