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Parsing The SC-1 Poll

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The first congressional district is an interesting animal …

In a state full of dirt poor, borderline illiterates it represents the richest and most intellectually advanced region of the state – including population centers in Charleston, Beaufort and Hilton Head Island (and having shed the “Redneck Riviera” of Myrtle Beach during the recent redistricting).

It’s also decidedly “Republican,” supporting GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney by nearly 20 percentage points. That’s why it surprised us to see a new poll showing Democrat Elizabeth Colbert-Busch running neck-and-neck (or slightly ahead) of her two potential rivals in a May special election for the district’s congressional seat – vacated earlier this year by newly appointed U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.

(To read our story on those results, click here).

Anyway, the survey was conducted last weekend by Public Policy Polling (PPP) – a North Carolina-based firm. And while PPP is a Democratic outfit, its results in South Carolina have been solid of late.

So …

Aside from the first district race, what else did PPP poll?

Well, they wanted to know how U.S. President Barack Obama is doing (41 percent approve of his job performance, 57 percent disapprove). They also tested the same question for S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley (41 percent approve of her job performance, 45 percent disapprove), U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (40 percent approve, 44 percent disapprove) and Scott (53 percent approve, 26 percent disapprove).

As for “favorability,” PPP asked first district voters whether they had a favorable impression of comedian Stephen Colbert – sister of the Democratic candidate. Thirty-six percent did, while 27 percent did not. The same question was posed regarding Jenny Sanford – ex-wife of former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination in this district. Fifty-five percent did, while only eighteen percent did not.

Clearly Haley and Graham have their work cut out for them when it comes to rehabilitating themselves with first district voters … while Obama’s poor performance means we should expect every Democrat who runs in this district to be labeled an “Obama liberal” by their GOP opponents.

PPP surveyed 1,175 likely voters in the district from March 22-24. Its poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percent.

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