Trump, Clinton Continue With Double Digits Lead In South Carolina

A new poll from CBS News and YouGov shows that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton continue to hold solid leads in South Carolina.

First up, the Republicans, who hold their South Carolina primary on Saturday:

The CBS News Battleground Tracker poll shows that Donald Trump keeps a large lead in South Carolina, bolstered by support from conservatives and also from evangelical voters, who make up a large share of the electorate here.

Ted Cruz is in second place, but well behind Trump. Cruz has the support of those who consider themselves very conservative, but trails Trump among all conservatives as well as moderates.

John Kasich has gotten a little bounce out of his surprisingly strong showing in New Hampshire, but he may be limited here by the fact that evangelical voters are not as strongly in support of him as non-evangelicals.

For Trump voters, who have been relatively steadfast in their support over the last few months, the percentage who say they’ve firmly decided on Trump has increased. Trump’s lead among evangelicals is up from January, and he has widened his lead among conservatives, too.

In a contest marked by divisions among so-called “insiders” and “outsiders,” South Carolina Republicans show a strong preference for campaigns running as the latter, and this poll helps illustrate why. By four to one, South Carolina Republicans describe the “establishment” as a bad thing, and few describe it as a group that knows how to get things done.

On the metric of being “prepared” to be president, Trump and Cruz do well, and Jeb Bush and John Kasich do relatively well, but Marco Rubio trails in this regard, suggesting that last week’s debate in New Hampshire may have had an impact.

Looking at the numbers, the poll puts Trump at 42%, followed by Ted Cruz at 20%, Marco Rubio at 15%, John Kasich at 9%, and Jeb Bush and Ben Carson tied at 6%. Factoring this poll into the RealClearPolitics average gives Trump an average twenty point lead over his opponents. Obviously, this poll was taken before last night’s debate so it’s unclear what impact that event, or the death of Justice Scalia, may have on the race going forward in the Palmetto State.

On the Democratic side, where the primary doesn’t take place until February 27th, Hillary Clinton continues to hold her strong lead:

Hillary Clinton keeps her large lead in South Carolina, which has narrowed only slightly from last month, and she is bolstered by strong support from the African American voters who comprise most of the Democratic electorate here.

Bernie Sanders leads among white voters and younger voters, continuing the campaign dynamics we saw in Iowa and New Hampshire, but in South Carolina that is not enough to bring him close.

Some of those other factors are also in play here. Sanders leads Clinton on being seen as honest and trustworthy, though here, a majority see both candidates as honest, so the effect is not as pronounced. And Clinton leads on preparedness for the Presidency, also echoing themes her campaign stressed in previous states.

It’s worth noting that this poll does show some changes from previous polling of the Democratic race in the Palmetto State. In the two most recent polls prior to this, from ARG and NBC News/Marist, Clinton’s lead was at or near thirty-seven percentage points, although the last CBS/YouGov poll show Clinton with a twenty-two point lead so the change within this poll isn’t very drastic. At the very least, there’s no indication that Bernie Sanders has picked up any ground with African-Americans in the state, which he would seem to need to to in order to gain any real ground. In the RealClearPolitics average, Clinton presently has a 31.4 point lead over Sanders with little sign of that shrinking any time soon.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.