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Winthrop Poll Logo with Latest Results

Current Findings

March 2015 Winthrop Poll

For methodological questions please read the full Methodology Statement

 

 


The Winthrop Poll surveyed 1,109 residents in South Carolina by landline and cell phones between Feb. 21 and March 1. Of those interviewed, 44.5% were reached via cell phone. The poll has a margin of error of approximately +/- 3% at the 95% confidence level.

When asked about the attention the Palmetto State receives from its first-in-the-South primaries leading up to the presidential election, respondents said they liked it. Quizzed about whether the primaries have a positive or negative effect concerning economic impact and national media attention, around 70% of respondents said it was somewhat or very positive.

Six in ten South Carolinians, including nearly two-thirds of registered voters, say U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham should not run for president, according to Winthrop Poll respondents.

The senior senator from S.C. is exploring a White House run in 2016. His approval rating stands at 45.5% among all poll respondents, 46.5% among registered voters and 60.3% among GOP and leaners, according to calls made last week. 

GUN OWNERSHIP AND GAS TAX OPINIONS

This spring, legislators are debating bills that toughen South Carolina's domestic violence laws, creating a tiered system of offenses, increasing penalties and barring batterers from possessing guns. The state – one of the deadliest in the country for women - currently ranks second in the nation for the rate of women killed by men.

Winthrop Poll callers told respondents that federal law forbids those convicted of criminal domestic violence from owning guns. However there is not consistent enforcement across all states. When asked if legislators should pass a law to ensure full enforcement of the federal law here in South Carolina, three-fourths of respondents said yes.

On another piece of S.C. legislation, respondents were asked if they would be willing to pay 10 cents a gallon more for gas so the money raised would be used for infrastructure, such as repairing roads and bridges. This would increase the cost of gas in S.C., but it would still remain lower than in Georgia and North Carolina. Fifty-five percent of respondents said they would support this proposal.

ECONOMY

The direction of the nation still has many concerned. More than two-thirds of South Carolina residents said our nation is headed in the wrong direction.

They are more positive about the Palmetto State’s path, with 52% saying the state’s current direction is good. They see the national economy as getting better (51.2%) and South Carolina’s economy getting better (63.3%).

News in the Middle East is another area of concern. ISIS or terrorism in general is the most important problem they said for the country, followed by politicians/government and the economy/financial crisis. In South Carolina, the most important problem is education, followed by jobs/unemployment and the economy/financial crisis.

Regarding their own financial situation, 55.7% of respondents rate their household’s experience as either good or excellent, and a majority said it is getting better.

 

HEALTH AND MARRIAGE

There is currently a proposal before the General Assembly to allow the health department to offer the HPV vaccine to female students entering the seventh grade. The Department of Health and Environmental Control would also develop a brochure, which could be handed out at schools, to explain the link between HPV and cervical cancer. The legislation does NOT require girls to get the vaccine in order to attend school. A little more than two-thirds of the respondents said they would support the proposal.

More than half of respondents (52.7%) said they think marriages between same-sex couples should not be recognized by the law as valid. The percent of all respondents who feel same-sex marriages should be valid – 42.8% – is nearly identical to the percent in South Carolina who felt same-sex marriages should be valid in 2013 when accounting for the margin of error for both polls. An October 2013 Winthrop Poll of the general population found that 38.5% felt same-sex marriages should be valid and 52.2% felt that same-sex marriages should not be valid.


POLITICAL PARTIES AND LEADERS

President Barack Obama’s approval rating in South Carolina continues to remain low at around 40% and lags behind national approval for Obama which is around 50%. 

Meanwhile, Congress’ approval rating also remains low at 14.9%, a figure that is a little lower than the national opinion of Congress. 

Approval ratings of leaders in South Carolina:

• Governor Nikki Haley - 53.2% among S.C. residents, 56.2% among registered voters, 78.4% among GOP and leaners.
• S.C. State Legislature - 41% among S.C. residents and 41.9% among registered voters.
• U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. - 53.6% among S.C. residents, 57.5% among registered voters and 71% among GOP and leaners.

Tea Party membership is claimed by only 7.1% of those surveyed and 11.4% of GOP and leaners. Only 22.1% of respondents and 38.8% of GOP and leaners respondents approve of the movement. Nearly half 
are either unsure or don't feel that they have enough information to form an opinion.

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).

 

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

 

All Respondents

Registered Voters

Approve

40.8

40.1

Disapprove

52.0

54.6

Don’t Know

6.1

4.0

Refused

1.1

1.3

 

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

 

All Respondents

Registered Voters

Approve

14.9

13.6

Disapprove

76.7

79.8

Don’t Know

7.6

6.0

Refused

0.9

0.5

 


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

 

All Respondents

Registered Voters

GOP and Leaners

Approve

53.2

56.2

78.4

Disapprove

37.1

36.2

15.8

Don’t Know

8.9

6.8

5.8

Refused

0.8

0.8

 

 

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

 

All Respondents

Registered Voters

Approve

41.0

41.9

Disapprove

39.3

41.4

Don’t Know

17.5

14.6

Refused

2.2

2.1

 

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

 

All Respondents

Registered Voters

GOP and Leaners

Approve

45.5

46.5

60.3

Disapprove

41.6

42.7

29.4

Don’t Know

10.9

9.1

9.0

Refused

2.0

1.7

1.3

 

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

 

All Respondents

Registered Voters

GOP and Leaners

Approve

53.6

57.5

71.0

Disapprove

22.4

23.7

9.5

Don’t Know

21.2

16.2

18.2

Refused

2.8

2.6

1.3

 

T7  Thinking about the current path that our nation is taking, do you think our country is on the right track or headed in the wrong direction?

 

All Respondents

Right Track

26.1

Wrong Direction

67.4

Don’t Know/ Refused

6.5

 

T8  Thinking about the current path that the state of South Carolina is taking, do you think South Carolina is on the right track or headed in the wrong direction?

 

All Respondents

Right Track

52.0

Wrong Direction

39.8

Don’t Know/ Refused

8.2

 

T9  What do you think is the most important problem facing the United States of America today? (Top 3 responses)

 

All Respondents

ISIS/Terrorism (in general)

 

10.3

Politicians/Government

9.2

Economy/Economic-Financial Crisis

9.0

 

T10 What do you think is the most important problem facing the state of South Carolina today?

 

All Respondents

Education

17.9

Jobs or Unemployment

12.9

Economy/Economic-Financial Crisis

9.4

 

T11  How would you rate the condition of the economy of the country as a whole these days? Is it very good, fairly good, fairly bad, or very bad? 

 

All Respondents

Very Good

4.1

Fairly Good

51.9

Fairly Bad

29.3

Very Bad

13.4

Not Sure

1.3

Refused

0.1

 

T12  Right now, do you think that economic conditions in the country as a whole are getting better or getting worse?

 

All Respondents

Getting Better

51.2

Getting Worse

40.5

Not Sure

6.8

Refused

1.4

 

T13  How would you rate the condition of the economy of South Carolina these days? Is it very good, fairly good, fairly bad, or very bad?

 

All Respondents

Very Good

6.7

Fairly Good

59.7

Fairly Bad

25.3

Very Bad

6.2

Not Sure

2.1

Refused

0.1

 

T14  Right now, do you think that economic conditions in South Carolina are getting better or getting worse?

 

All Respondents

Getting Better

63.3

Getting Worse

28.4

Not Sure

6.9

Refused

1.4

 

T15  How would you rate your financial situation today? As excellent, good, only fair, or poor 

 

All Respondents

Excellent

10.5

Good

45.2

Only Fair

31.1

Poor

11.7

Not Sure

0.9

Refused

0.6

 

T16  Right now, do you think that your financial situation as a whole is getting better or getting worse?

 

All Respondents

Getting Better

61.4

Getting Worse

27.8

Not Sure

9.2

Refused

1.6


T17  Currently federal law forbids people who have been convicted of criminal domestic violence from owning guns. However, there is no mechanism in this law which ensures consistent enforcement across all states. Do you think the South Carolina Legislature SHOULD or should NOT pass a law to ensure full enforcement of this federal law in the state of South Carolina. 

 

All Respondents

Registered Voters

Should

74.0

75.2

Should NOT

19.5

18.9

Not Sure [volunteered]

4.5

3.8

Refused

2.0

2.0

 

T18  In the primary elections leading up to a presidential election, South Carolina generally holds the First in the South presidential primary for both Republicans and Democrats…

 [NOTE: after this introduction, the following two questions were rotated]

 
In terms of economic impact on the state, do you view South Carolina holding the First in the South presidential primary as positive or negative for the state?

    …. do you feel that way “very” or “somewhat”

 

All Respondents

Registered Voters

Very Positive

24.6

26.4

Somewhat Positive

46.1

46.6

Neither Positive nor Negative [volunteered]

5.1

4.8

Somewhat Negative

10.4

10.4

Very Negative

4.3

4.3

Not Sure

7.6

6.0

Refused

1.8

1.6

 

In terms of national media attention and focus on the state, do you view South Carolina holding the First in the South presidential primary as positive or negative for the state?

 …. do you feel that way “very” or “somewhat”

 

All Respondents

Registered Voters

Very Positive

28.0

30.7

Somewhat Positive

41.4

40.4

Neither Positive nor Negative [volunteered]

4.3

3.5

Somewhat Negative

12.7

13.3

Very Negative

6.3

6.5

Not Sure

5.4

4.0

Refused

1.8

1.6

 

T19  South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham says he is "testing the waters" for a possible presidential run. Do you think Lindsey Graham SHOULD or should NOT run for president in 2016?

 

All Respondents

Registered Voters

GOP and Leaners

Should

28.1

26.0

34.0

Should NOT

60.2

65.3

56.5

Not Sure [volunteered]

9.4

7.1

8.2

Refused

2.2

1.6

1.3

 

T20  There is currently a proposal in the South Carolina Legislature to increase the state gas tax by up to 10 cents a gallon. This would increase the cost of gas in the state, but a gallon of gas in South Carolina would still be cheaper than a gallon of gas in North Carolina or Georgia. The money raised would be restricted to use for infrastructure, such as repairing roads and bridges.

Would you support or oppose this proposal?

 

All Respondents

Registered Voters

Support

55.4

56.6

Oppose

41.7

41.2

Not Sure

2.3

1.6

Refused

0.5

0.6

NOTE: This question gave an accurate portrayal of the proposal (how much of an increase and the fact that the money is restricted) AND full context (the cost of gas WILL RISE, but SC gas would still be cheaper than NC gas).  The reason for doing it this way was because of the incredible variability in responses to gas tax questions that were asked of LIKELY VOTERS in October 2014. A basic question to LIKELY VOTERS in 2014 offering a “pro” argument and a “con” argument (rotated), but no context, showed 43.5% who favored the gas tax and 52.3% who opposed.  A following question in that poll that asked about a gas tax where SC gas would still be cheaper than gas in NC and GA showed 51.5% who favored the gas tax and 42.2% who opposed.  In the same poll, only 32.5% favored and 60.7% opposed if the cost of SC gas increased to be equal to the cost of gas in NC and GA.  Finally, in the same poll, questions that added ANY specific dollar (cents) amount showed support only between 34 and 36%.

Therefore, this question has full context with two things that proved to decrease support in the past (an actual dollar [cents] amount and the restatement that the cost of gas would RISE) and two things that proved to increase support in the past (money restricted to infrastructure and gas still cheaper than NC and GA).  A balanced question with full context. 

 

T21  There is currently a proposal in the South Carolina legislature to allow the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control to offer the HPV vaccine to female students entering the 7th grade.  The Department would also develop a brochure, which could be handed out at schools, explaining the link between HPV and cervical cancer in women. This proposal would NOT require girls to have the vaccine in order to attend school. 

Would you support or oppose this proposal?

 

All Respondents

Registered Voters

Support

67.7

67.5

Oppose

23.7

24.7

Not Sure

6.8

6.3

Refused

1.8

1.5

 

T22  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

Registered Voters

Should be valid

42.8

39.6

Should not be valid

52.7

55.8

Not Sure

2.2

2.1

Refused to answer

2.4

2.5

NOTE: the percent of all respondents who feel same-sex marriages should be valid is nearly identical to the percent in SC who felt same-sex marriages should be valid in 2013 when the margin of error for both polls is taken into account.  An October 2013 Winthrop Poll of the general population found that 38.5% felt same-sex marriages should be valid and 52.2% felt that same-sex marriages should not be valid.

 

T23  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

Registered Voters

GOP and Leaners

Approve

22.1

25.1

38.8

Disapprove

27.9

32.6

14.6

Not Sure OR Not familiar enough to have opinion

48.4

40.8

45.5

Refused

1.5

1.4

1.0

 

T24  Would you consider yourself a MEMBER of the Tea Party Movement?

 

All Respondents

Registered Voters

GOP and Leaners

Yes

7.1

8.5

11.4

No

85.7

86.4

80.9

Not Sure

5.9

4.3

7.3

Refused

1.3

0.8

0.4

Note: According to the latest American Community Survey done by the United States Census Bureau, there are 3,695,726 adults (i.e. individuals aged 18 and older) in SC.  The 7.1% figure among all respondents translates to roughly 262,000 people.


 

 

T25  As of January 1, 2015, twenty nine states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage.  Do you think the state of South Carolina SHOULD or should NOT pass a law increasing the minimum wage above the federally mandated minimum.

 

 

All Respondents

Registered Voters

GOP & Leaners

Dem & Leaners

Should

68.0

66.2

48.6

89.8

Should NOT

29.0

30.8

48.3

9.0

Not Sure [volunteered]

2.5

2.3

3.1

0.9

Refused

0.6

0.7

0.0

0.3

 

 

Male

Female

White

Black

Should

58.9

76.3

60.3

86.0

Should NOT

39.1

19.5

35.9

13.0

Not Sure [volunteered]

1.8

3.2

3.3

0.3

Refused

0.2

1.0

0.5

0.7

 

 

Age 18-24

Age 25-44

Age 45-64

Age 65+

Should

74.7

68.5

69.8

58.2

Should NOT

23.3

28.7

27.8

37.1

Not Sure [volunteered]

2.0

1.9

1.9

4.3

Refused

0.0

0.8

0.5

0.4

 

Partisan Breakdown in SC (Independents who report that they "Lean" towards a party are included with that party)

Demographics

 

Census

Survey

Male

47.9412

48.5

Female

52.05879

51.4

Unknown

--

0.1

   

 

18-19

4.0608

4.0

20-29

17.966

16.5

30-39

16.4846

15.8

40-49

17.9802

17.6

50-59

17.7694

17.6

60-69

13.9953

14.1

70-79

7.5244

7.6

80-89

3.5764

3.7

90-99

0.6247

0.7

over 100

0.0184

0.0

Refused

--

2.4

   

 

White

68.57

68.1

Black

26.5

25.9

Other

4.93

3.3

Refused

--

2.7

     
     
 

Data taken from SC Election Commission

Survey

Male

45.01743

45.9

Female

54.978

54.1

Unknown

0.004569

0.0

   

 

18-24

3.758765

3.7

25-44

37.52492

36.8

45-64

35.71474

36.3

65+

22.99766

23.3

     

White

68.80767

68.6

Non-White

31.19233

31.4

 

 

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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