Politics & Government

Poll: Donald Trump favorite of SC Republicans — again

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant on Monday.
Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant on Monday. AP

In a campaign that continues to draw huge crowds and generate loud criticism, Donald Trump remains South Carolina’s leading Republican candidate for president.

The New York billionaire who remains his party’s national front-runner received 24 percent of backing from likely 2016 GOP S.C. presidential primary voters in a poll from Winthrop University released Thursday.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has surged nationally in recent weeks, was second at 16 percent in the new Winthrop Poll. Cruz posted his best showing in a South Carolina poll since April.

Behind Cruz, retired Maryland neurosurgeon Ben Carson notched 14 percent, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio garnered 11 percent.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush followed with 9 percent to stay in fifth, a spot he has held since October in South Carolina.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of Seneca was tied for sixth in his home state at 2 percent with former chief executive Carly Fiorina and former Arkansas Gov. Miike Huckabee. Graham, the first South Carolina politician to run for president in three decades, remains near the back of the 14-candidate pack for the nomination in other early-primary states, Iowa and New Hampshire.

Trump has led 13 of the 14 major polls taken in the state with the South’s first primary since late July, according to Real Clear Politics.

The Winthrop poll was taken from Nov. 30 through Monday, the day that Trump proposed a temporary ban on Muslims traveling into the United States in the wake of ISIS-related mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif.

S.C. Republican leaders criticized Trump, including Gov. Nikki Haley, who called his proposed Muslim ban “un-American.”

But his proposal, which some condemned as unconstitutional, has not hurt Trump’s support in the Palmetto State as the Feb. 20 primary approaches.

On Wednesday, Fox News released a poll showing Trump leading Carson by 35 percent to 15 percent in the Palmetto State. Cruz and Rubio were tied for third at 14 percent. That poll was taken this week after Trump’s proposed Muslim travel ban.

The terrorism and ISIS topped S.C. GOP voters’ top issue in the election by nearly a 2-to-1 margin over the economy, according to the new Winthrop poll.

The survey also found that 67 percent of S.C. Republican voters favor surveillance of mosques and 48 percent back a database of Muslims in the Unnited States versus 42 percent who oppose it. Those suggestions drew even more backing from Trump supporters, 80 percent of whom want mosques monitored and 72 percent support the database.

The GOP race has changed quite bit since Winthrop last took a poll of S.C. Republicans in April.

Bush was the leader in the last university poll with Cruz and Graham tied for second. Trump did not enter the race until June, which started with controversial comments Mexican immigrants and has continued with sharp jabs at his opponents and the media.

But with his promises of using his experience as a real estate mogul to make sweeping changes, Trump has found steady support among voters who feel alienated and want a political newcomer to lead in Washington, D.C.

“Trump’s support is high among those who express anger — as opposed to frustration or contentment — with the government.” Winthrop political scientist Scott Huffmon said.

Winthrop Poll surveyed 828 likely S.C. Republican voters in a poll with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.

New 2016 GOP poll

Winthrop Poll surveyed 828 likely S.C. Republican presidential primary voters from Nov. 30 through Monday in a survey with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.

Trump: 24%

Cruz: 16%

Carson: 14%

Rubio: 11%

Bush: 9%

Fiorina: 2%

Graham: 2%

Huckabee: 2%

Christie: 1%

Kasich: 1%

Paul: 1%

Gilmore, Pataki and Santorum: 0%