Politics & Government

Winthrop Poll: SC voters say Lindsey Graham should not run for president

By Jamie Self, jself@heraldonline.com

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks at the AIPAC conference on Sunday.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks at the AIPAC conference on Sunday. AP

Nearly two-thirds of S.C. registered voters say U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham should not run for president, according to a Winthrop Poll released Wednesday.

The poll, which surveyed 1,109 S.C. adults from Feb. 21 to March 1 with a margin of error of 3 percentage points, comes as the Seneca Republican makes visits to early-primary-states Iowa and New Hampshire while a political committee assesses whether the three-term senator should should pursue a White House bid in 2016.

Among Republicans, Graham's approval rating was 60 percent, but only 34 percent in his party said he should run for president.

Graham led former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in a NBC News/Marist poll of registered voters from early February. But surveys of voters by Public Policy Polling and Gravis Marketing conducted later in the month showed Graham falling behind Bush and Walker.

Wednesday's Winthrop Poll also found that one in ten South Carolinians listed terrorism and ISIS, or the Islamic State, as the most important problem facing the nation, with politicians, government, the economy and financial crisis trailing in importance.

Nearly one in five – 18 percent – of South Carolinians said education is the most important problem facing the state, ahead of jobs or unemployment, which 13 percent of respondents said was most important, and the economy, which 9 percent named as the state’s top problem.

That finding comes as state lawmakers work on responding to a state Supreme Court ruling last fall that ordered the General Assembly and poor, rural school districts to collaborate on fixing inadequacies in the state's public schools.

Poll findings related to legislative proposals before the S.C. General Assembly:

• Nearly three quarters of S.C. adults said state lawmakers should pass a law to enforce federal gun restrictions for criminals convicted of domestic violence, while 20 percent said they oppose such a law. A domestic violence bill that would restrict gun ownership for offenders passed the Senate and now has moved to the House.

• Fifty-five percent of South Carolinians said they support increasing the gas tax by 10 cents a gallon to pay to repair roads and bridges, while 42 percent said they oppose a gas-tax increase. The gas-tax hike is part of Gov. Nikki Haley’s proposal for paying to fix the state’s aging roads.

• More than half of S.C. residents, or 53 percent, said they oppose recognizing same-sex marriages as legal, while 43 percent said gay marriage should be legal. Same-sex couples are marrying for the first time in the Palmetto State following a court decision last fall that struck the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Some lawmakers are calling for a convention of states where a same-sex marriage ban could be proposed as an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Other poll findings:

President Barack Obama’s approval rating in the Palmetto State remains low at 40 percent, behind the national average which is around 50 percent. Obama is expected to visit Columbia Friday on his first return to the state since 2008.

South Carolinians still overwhelmingly disapprove Congress’s performance, with 77 percent saying federal lawmakers are doing a bad job.

Haley and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, Republicans fresh off of easy wins in November, are still popular, with more than half of S.C. adults approving of their job performance.