Donald Trump has a lead among South Carolina voters, but his numbers still lag well behind the performance of previous Republican presidential candidates in the state.
A majority of South Carolina residents surveyed in the latest Winthrop Poll said they did not view Trump or Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton favorably or as “honest.”
The poll was conducted between Sept. 18-26 and ended before Monday’s first presidential debate. It found that Trump was preferred by 42 percent of likely voters in SC, while Clinton was at 38 percent. Seven percent were undecided, while none of the third-party candidates registered support beyond double digits.
“While Clinton is seen as the more capable candidate, she is also viewed as more dishonest,” Winthrop Poll Director Scott Huffmon told South Carolina Radio Network. “However, both candidates are setting records for being viewed unfavorably. While Trump has the lead, these factors may contribute to why he is under performing expectations of a hypothetical generic Republican versus generic Democrat matchup.”
Only 1 in 5 residents described Clinton as honest, while Trump garnered that same description from a third of residents. Both candidates were viewed unfavorably by around 55 percent of residents.
Trump’s lead is about 4 percentage points compared to an almost 11-point lead for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s four years ago. “So the fact that Trump is running behind that and behind the 10.5 points that Romney won South Carolina by, I think might be a little surprising,” Huffmon said.
Clinton fared somewhat better than Trump when residents were asked if they thought she was capable. 53 percent said the former Secretary of State was capable, while only 46% said the term accurately described the Republican nominee.
The “main” Winthrop Poll is a general population poll of 694 South Carolina residents. Results which used all respondents have a margin of error of approximately +/- 3.7% at the 95% confidence level. Results for likely voters in the November presidential election have a sample size of 475 and have a margin of error of approximately +/- 4.5% at the 95% confidence level. Any subset will have a larger margin of error. Margins of error are based on weighted sample size.
Poll phone calls were made during weekday evenings, all day Saturday, and Sunday afternoon and evening to those with landlines and mobile devices.
The Winthrop Poll is paid for by Winthrop University with additional support from The West Forum on Politics and Policy at Winthrop University.