New South Carolina Republican Poll!
Note that this was an IVR poll, and Trump does better on these types of polls as compared to live-interviewer polls.
This poll has a very strict definition of a likely primary voter, which has tended to cause Trump to have lower poll numbers. So this poll may underestimate Trump’s polling strength if he attracts a lot of supporters to the polls who have not previously voted in a Republican primary.
The results are:
I think there are some significant takeaways here.
The most obvious is that Trump is at 36.3%, which is consistent with SC polls taken in January. Cruz at 19.6% is also consistent with polls taken in January. SC is a state that’s friendly to a committed anti-abortion hardcore-conservative type of candidate like Cruz. Remember that Newt won this state in 2012 and that Huckabee came in a very close second 2008, so this means that Trump, the frontrunner and New Hampshire winner is outperforming both McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012. If this is how the numbers break after actual voting, it’s hard to see how Trump can lose the nomination.
The battle for third place is interesting. It looks like Rubio was not hurt that much by his robotic debate glitch and his poor performance in New Hampshire.
Kasich has moved up substantially here since the January polls, but not enough to break out of fifth place.
Carson has sunk. He is now seen as a loser and his supporters are moving on to other candidates. Very few people want to vote for a loser.
It’s also important to note that 15.7% said they would vote for Trump as their second-choice candidate. Only Cruz (at 17.0%) and Rubio (at 18.5%) scored higher here and only by a small amount, so this demonstrates that Trump’s future support is NOT limited to just the people who are already voting for him as their first choice. As other candidates drop out of the race, Trump will pick up an even share of the leftover votes. Also, as normally happens after initial victories, social proof causes the front-runner’s support to increase, and no one has presented me with a believable explanation for why this won’t benefit Trump just as it has benefited every other candidate who has done well in early primaries.
Unless something really significant happens during the debate on Saturday or next week, I don’t see how Trump comes out as anything but a big winner in South Carolina. And by a winner, I mean not just having the highest vote total, but beating the second-place candidate by a large margin and bringing a lot of momentum and social proof to Super Tuesday.
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Another interesting question. Assuming the real votes turn out like this (which is likely), will anyone drop out? Cruz certainly won’t drop out, and Rubio won’t because he can say that he’s the only candidate besides Trump and Cruz who came in third place in two states.