Two months away from South Carolina’s presidential primary, a large majority of Republicans aren’t sure who they’ll support.
That’s according to a new poll released Wednesday from Clemson University. The Palmetto Poll surveyed 600 people who said they were likely to vote in the GOP primary in January and found 68 percent of them had not yet decided on a candidate. A similar percentage of those who did support a candidate said they were likely to change their mind before the election.
“It’s up in the air. It’s up for grabs,” said Clemson political science professor Bruce Ransom, who helped conduct the poll, “Given all that has taken place thus far, all the candidates coming into the state, all the debates taking place in this state… it’s still to be decided.”
Among those who were backing a candidate, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain were in a statistical dead heat. Romney had 22 percent and Cain had 20 percent, but the difference is within the poll’s 4.5 percent margin of error.
Newt Gingrich received 10 percent of the support, while Rick Perry had 9 percent. The other candidates were under five percent.
Ransom said it’s not unusual for such a high number of voters to be undecided with two months to go. He pointed out Mitt Romney was the Republican leader at this point in 2007, but John McCain eventually won the primary. Hillary Clinton was also the leader of the Democratic primary with two months to go, but it was Barack Obama who carried the state.
The poll also found that only 12 percent of respondents said they were either members of the Tea Party or had attended a Tea Party meeting. Ransom said he was surprised the number was that low, but added 38 percent said they supported the movement. 51 percent said they “neither supported nor opposed” the Tea Party.
The Clemson University Palmetto Poll is sponsored by the school’s Strom Thurmond Institute and the College of Business and Behavioral Science.