August 22, 2014

SC Big Story: Poll shows Haley trending up, Graham has battle ahead

Top state political news for the day

The latest Winthrop Poll results show that U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham’s disapproval rating among registered voters has inched up.

The survey of 877 adult South Carolinians conducted April 6-13 indicates that the incumbent senator is showing some vulnerability as the disapproval rating among registered voters 43.8 percent is higher than his approval rating of 39.6 percent.

Poll Director Scott Huffmon cautioned that the difference between the two is just at the margin of error for the registered voter sample.

“He will be in trouble when his disapproval ratings shoot significantly passed his approval ratings, and polls of likely primary voters show him below 40 percent with very few undecided. That is a sign for trouble, but I don’t know of any legitimate polls showing that,” Huffmon said.”

Graham-HaleyGraham’s approval rating among all respondents went up 3.1 to 42.8 percent from the 39.7 percent when the last poll was taken in October 2013.

Huffmon says Graham has a huge war chest for his campaign, but that does not make him invulnerable, especially if one of the now six candidates can gain traction and show an ability to raise money in a relatively short amount of time.

“Our poll was conducted before Det Bowers got in the race, and Det Bowers is not well-known in the state: he is well-known in some circles like evangelical Christians. He has raised a significant amount of money, but he is still generally unknown and many of Graham’s challengers are. They have to start spending the money,” Huffmon told South Carolina Radio Network.

Along with Columbia pastor Det Bowers, the other GOP challengers are Upstate businessman Richard Cash, Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor, Lowcountry businesswoman Nancy Mace, State Senator Lee Bright, and Columbia attorney Benjamin Dunn.

The poll shows that 90.7 percent of registered voters said they do not consider themselves members of the Tea Party. Only 5.6 percent of registered voters said they were part of the Tea Party movement, but Huffmon says that small sample does not accurately reflect the movement’s influence.

Less than 6 percent of registered voters still translates to almost 160,000 people across the state and a 160,000 committed, active people have a voice that is far outsized of their actual numbers.”

Tea Party leaders have attacked Senator Graham saying he not conservative enough and is too willing to compromise with Democrats.

Nearly 50 percent of respondents approve of Governor Haley’s work and 35 percent disapprove. Huffmon says these numbers indicate that Democratic challenger Vincent Sheheen will have a hug hill to climb to upset the incumbent in a rematch of the gubernatorial race in 2010

“If she gets a strong turnout among her base, which our “likely voter in the GOP primary poll” in February showed was very strong, then she have solid support and Sheheen is going to have turn out all of his base and convince some independents to come his way. It’s still going to be tight, but she is holding steady at the moment,” Huffmon said.