Poll: Elizabeth Colbert Busch Leading Mark Sanford In Congressional Race
A new poll shows Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch leading former Governor Mark Sanford in the race for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, which is headed for a Special Election on May 7th:
PPP’s newest poll on the special election in South Carolina finds Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch expanding her lead to 9 points over Mark Sanford at 50/41. Green Party candidate Eugene Platt polls at 3%.
Colbert Busch’s lead is on the rise for several reasons. She has a 51/35 advantage with independents. She’s winning over 19% of Republicans, while losing just 7% of Democrats. And it also seems that after last week’s revelations about Sanford that a lot of GOP voters are planning to just stay at home- while the district supported Mitt Romney by 18 points last fall, those planning to turn out for the special election voted for him by only a 5 point spread.
Sanford continues to be unpopular in the district with 38% of voters rating him favorably to 56% with a negative opinion. 51% say the revelations about his trespassing last week give them doubts about his fitness for public office. Interestingly the events of the last week haven’t hurt Sanford too much with Republicans though- 65% say the trespassing charges don’t give them any doubts about him, and his favorability with GOP voters has actually improved from 55/39 a month ago to now 61/32.
Although Sanford’s unpopularity is clearly the main reason Democrats have a chance to win in this district, it’s interesting to note that there is some backlash against Republicans over last week’s vote on background checks. 86% of voters in the district say they support them to only 12% opposed, and 45% of voters say the GOP’s opposition to them makes it less likely they’ll support the party in the next election compared to only 21% who consider it a positive. That anger over the gun vote comes despite Barack Obama having only a 41% approval rating in the district with 51% of voters disapproving of him.
As much trouble as Sanford has created for himself it’s worth noting that Colbert Busch has a 56% favorability rating, with just 31% of voters giving her poor marks. Those are pretty exceptionally good numbers for a Congressional candidate and a sign that she is a pretty strong candidate in her own right.
One caveat to take into account is that it is often difficult to poll Congressional Districts, and it is especially difficult to poll Special Elections because it’s often hard to predict what turnout will be like. Taking all that into account, though, it seems like Colbert Busch has a good chance of picking up this seat next month. How long she’ll hold on to it is another question. This district is very strongly Republican and, when the 2014 election comes she’s likely to be facing a Republican opponent that doesn’t have Sanford’s considerable baggage. All of that assumes she wins this election, of course.