The majority of Republicans in South Carolina are looking for a presidential candidate that more closely matches their own beliefs — and are less concerned about who can beat President Obama in the General Election.
That is reflected in the latest Winthrop Poll of registered South Carolina voters released Tuesday. Among Republicans, and Republican-leaners surveyed who are definitely planning to vote in the presidential primary, 60 percent said it was more important to pick a candidate who matched their beliefs while 33.5 percent said it was more important to pick a candidate that could beat President Obama.
Winthrop Poll Director Dr. Scott Huffmon says it’s important to point out that a number of political pundits on television are political strategists who think in terms of electability, but rank and file voters normally don’t think that way.
Huffmon says as the country’s economic struggles continue, a majority of Republicans think President Obama is beatable regardless of who the GOP nominee happens to be. In that scenario, rank-and-file Republican voters feel comfortable in backing the candidate that think most mirrors their beliefs, which runs contrary to what the party elite may think.
Huffmon says the contest in South Carolina is shaping up as a “two-horse race” between Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Perry was chosen by 30.5 percent of the Republican respondents. Romney was the favorite of 27.3 percent. The margin of error was 4.57 percent.
Perry has captured the momentum and emotion of the right-wing of the Republican Party, including a majority of Tea Party members and for that reason many national pundits say he is not electable. Huffmon says whomever wins the GOP nomination, you will see that person gravitate more toward the center in order to better appeal to independents and disgruntled Democrats.
Huffmon says as candidates gear up for the General Election, many move toward the political center, to the chagrin of many of that candidate’s rank-and-file supporters. This also affects to strategies of both Democrats and Republicans.