A new poll shows Gov. Henry McMaster is far from unified support among his own party for this year’s governor’s race, but he may still have just enough to beat his Republican challengers.
The new Trafalgar Group Poll shows that 40 percent of likely Republican voters surveyed said they would back the governor in the June primary. Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant was a distant second at 11 percent, while former state environmental director Catherine Templeton had 8 percent. Former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill had 3 percent support.
However, Poll Director Robert Cahaly said it’s still too early to draw conclusions for McMaster’s strongest challenger. 38 percent of Republicans were either undecided or wanted another choice.
“What you’re going to see is a much more competitive contest between Templeton and Bryant than people had once thought would be there,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “Kevin has a lot of strength in the Upstate and among party regulars who attend party events there. And Catherine has done a lot of grassroots support herself and has a base.”
Cahaly said there were some trends. Those Republicans who approved of President Trump were more likely to back McMaster, while those who were most ardently against him tended to be Templeton backers.
On the Democratic side, voters were even more uncertain with their options. 25 percent of likely Democratic primary voters preferred Charleston activist Phil Noble to 20 percent who supported Columbia legislator State Rep. James Smith. However, 54 percent of those surveyed said they were either “Undecided” or wanted “Someone Else.”
“It is wide open,” Cahaly said. “You have a significant amount of people who say someone else or say they’re undecided. This race is much more wide open.”
Trafalgar found 53 percent of all respondents said they either “approve” or “strongly approve” of President Trump, while 42 percent disapproved or “strongly disapproved.” Perhaps not surprisingly, those who disapproved of the president indicated strong displeasure (35 percent vs. 7 percent). Support was divided almost evenly between the two approval variations (27 percent vs. 26 percent). However 15 percent of self-identified Republicans in the poll disapproved of the president.
The poll used a combination of phone calls and online surveys to speak with more than 2,200 registered voters last month. It has a 2.1 percent margin of error. Cahaly said the poll attempted to weight the sample to match the racial and geographic demographics of South Carolina as much as possible.