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October 2013 Winthrop Poll Results



ROCK HILL, S.C. – The results of the latest Winthrop Poll of 887 respondents living in South Carolina are in. The survey was in the field from Oct. 19-27, 2013.

After weights (for sex, age, and race) have been applied, results which use all respondents have a margin of error of approximately +/- 3.3% at the 95% confidence level. Results that use less than the full sample will naturally have a higher margin of error. For results using only registered voters, n=630, margin of error of approximately +/- 3.9% at the 95% confidence level.

Poll Director Scott Huffmon provided context to how approval ratings should be interpreted. National figures like the president or Congress cannot be compared to statewide figures like the governor, legislature, or senators, he said. Evidence for the inability to compare can be found by examining the few people with no opinion at the national level compared to the larger number of those with no opinion in state offices. “The most relevant comparison for a statewide figure is their approval to disapproval,” Huffmon said.

For example, Tim Scott has a 38.8% approval rating among the general public, but it is most important to note that this is 10 points higher than his disapproval number, and a full 30.6% of the general population (some of whom are not registered to vote) have not formed an opinion on South Carolina’s newest senator.  To the degree that those with low exposure to the news get any political information at all, it is more likely to be about national political figures.

Additionally, the Winthrop Poll is designed to serve all of the citizens of South Carolina.  This service is a centerpiece to the mission of the poll. “Although many campaign professionals attempt to dismiss general population polls, instead favoring ‘likely voter’ polls only, we believe that the voices of ALL South Carolinians should be heard on a regular basis, not just the individuals who help get the bosses of those campaign professionals elected,” Huffmon said.

He will conduct likely voter polls closer to the election. “However, gauging the opinions of all South Carolinians will still be our priority, and general population polls will continue to make up the majority of our surveys,” Huffmon added.

This Winthrop Poll, which is partially underwritten by the John C. West Forum, contains a significant number of social questions relevant to all South Carolinians, such as opinions on women bearing children out of wedlock, interracial marriage, marijuana, minority support programs and Tea Party acceptance.

For additional information on methodology, see this link.

Among the Winthrop Poll findings: 

  • ·         S.C. residents (47.3%) blame Republicans in Congress for the recent government shutdown. Nearly 29% blame President Barack Obama, while 20% blame them equally.
  • ·         Approval ratings for the president and Congress decreased to their lowest numbers yet in S.C., with Obama at 40.7% and Congress in single digits at 6.7%. More than 48% of S.C. residents have a negative or very negative opinion of the two-term president, while 36% have a negative or very negative view of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid fared better but only because 34.7% did not know his name or were not sure about him.
  • ·         Nearly three-in-four of all respondents disapproved of the way Republicans in Congress are doing their job, while 61% disapprove of the job Democrats are doing.
    • ·         S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley has ticked up in approval ratings since the February Winthrop Poll to 44.1% among all residents and 44.5% among registered voters. Last December, her approval and disapproval rating numbers were nearly even. Gov. Haley garners a higher approval rating—65.5% vs. 20% who disapprove of her job performance—among those who say they are Republicans.
    • ·         Regarding the S.C. General Assembly, 39.4% of S.C. residents approved and 37.5% disapproved. Nearly 1 in 5 was not sure.
    • ·         U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is up for re-election in 2014 and has Republican opposition, saw his approval rating drop from the February Winthrop Poll from 71.6% among Republicans and those independents who lean toward the GOP to 45.2%. Among registered voters, the approval rating is 37.4%.
    • ·         U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, who was appointed by Gov. Haley to fill in for Jim DeMint after he resigned, remains a mystery to many residents. Nearly a third of residents are unsure of him. Scott has a 53.7% approval rating in his own Republican party, while 29% of them are not sure about him.
    • ·         In this red state, the National Republican Party does not have blind support. Among S.C. GOP and leaners, the party is viewed positively by 45%, while a quarter is neutral and another quarter is negative. GOP and leaners see their own state party in a much more favorable light. On the Democratic side, more than 60% of S.C. Democrats and leaners support the national Democratic Party.
  • ·         Support for the Tea Party movement among the GOP and leaners remains about the same since the February Winthrop Poll. Among S.C. residents, only 28% view it in a positive light.
  • ·         Fewer respondents think the country is on the right track (17%) compared with those who say it is headed in the wrong direction (75.1%). The four most important problems facing the country are, in order: politicians/government, economy or financial crisis, budget deficit or debt, and jobs/unemployment. Almost half think conditions for S.C. are worse. The Palmetto State’s more important problems are: jobs/unemployment, education, politicians/government and the economy/economic crisis.
  • ·         For S.C. residents, nearly half said having a child without being married is acceptable; 83% said interracial marriage between whites and blacks is acceptable, though more blacks agreed than whites; and around 42% said smoking marijuana was acceptable.


General Adult Population


Oct 2013 Winthrop Poll







Unknown/Could not determine





























over 100
















Voters as of Oct 28, 2013

Oct 2013 Winthrop Poll







Unknown/Could not determine

























(Note: Totals may not sum to 100% due to rounding)

T1 Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as President of the United States?

All National (ABC News/Washington Post Poll dated 10/20/13)
Approve 40.7 48
Disapprove 51.1 49
Not Sure 7.2 3
Refused 0.9


T2 Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job?

All National (ABC News/Washington Post Poll dated 10/20/13)
Approve 6.7 12
Disapprove 86.5 85
Not Sure 6.3 3
Refused 0.5

T3 In general, do you approve or disapprove of the job Republicans are doing in Congress?

Approve 16.9
Disapprove 73.9
Not Sure 8.1
Refused 1.1


T4 In general, do you approve or disapprove of the job Democrats are doing in Congress?

Approve 29.5
Disapprove 61.0
Not Sure 8.2
Refused 1.3


T5 Do you approve or disapprove of the way Nikki Haley is handling her job as Governor of South Carolina?

All Registered Voters GOP (including Leaners)
Approve 44.1 44.5 65.5
Disapprove 39.1 41.0 20.1
Not Sure 15.8 13.6 13.7
Refused 1.0 1.0 0.7


T6 Do you approve or disapprove of the way the South Carolina State Legislature is handling its job?

All Registered Voters
Approve 39.4 40.5
Disapprove 37.5 38.7
Not Sure 21.8 19.9
Refused 1.3 0.9


T7 Do you approve or disapprove of the way Lindsey Graham is handling his job as a United States Senator for South Carolina?

All Registered Voters GOP (including Leaners)
Approve 39.7 37.4 45.2
Disapprove 44.1 48.5 40.1
Not Sure 15.1 13.0 13.9
Refused 1.2 1.0 0.8


T8 Do you approve or disapprove of the way Tim Scott is handling his job as a United States Senator for South Carolina?

All Registered Voters GOP (including Leaners)
Approve 38.9 40.6 53.7
Disapprove 28.1 29.5 15.9
Not Sure 30.6 27.8 29.0
Refused 2.3 2.1 1.3

Is your view of this person/group very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative, or very negative?


T9 Barack Obama

Very Positive 21.6
Somewhat Positive 18.8
Neutral 9.8
Somewhat Negative 14.1
Very Negative 34.4
Don’t Know Name ORNot Sure 0.7
Refused 0.6


T10 John Boehner

Very Positive 3.7
Somewhat Positive 16.4
Neutral 19.8
Somewhat Negative 16.4
Very Negative 20.0
Don’t Know Name ORNot Sure 22.4
Refused 1.2


T11 Harry Reid

Very Positive 3.0
Somewhat Positive 11.6
Neutral 17.7
Somewhat Negative 9.9
Very Negative 21.8
Don’t Know Name ORNot Sure 34.7
Refused 1.3


T12 The NATIONAL Republican Party

All GOP (including Leaners)
Very Positive 4.8 9.2
Somewhat Positive 20.7 36.3
Neutral 21.2 23.7
Somewhat Negative 23.9 18.4
Very Negative 22.8 9.8
Don’t Know Name ORNot Sure 5.5 2.6
Refused 1.1 0.0


T13 The NATIONAL Democratic Party

All Democrats (including Leaners)
Very Positive 8.9 19.9
Somewhat Positive 21.8 41.7
Neutral 19.6 17.7
Somewhat Negative 19.2 10.3
Very Negative 24.7 5.4
Don’t Know Name ORNot Sure 4.9 3.8
Refused 0.8 1.1


T14 The SOUTH CAROLINA Democratic Party

All Democrats (including Leaners)
Very Positive 7.0 14.9
Somewhat Positive 23.5 43.1
Neutral 26.7 21.8
Somewhat Negative 18.6 6.4
Very Negative 15.1 4.5
Don’t Know Name ORNot Sure 8.2 7.6
Refused 0.9 1.8


T15 The SOUTH CAROLINA Republican Party

All GOP (including Leaners)
Very Positive 8.3 17.0
Somewhat Positive 22.1 38.1
Neutral 24.4 26.8
Somewhat Negative 16.4 8.9
Very Negative 21.7 5.7
Don’t Know Name ORNot Sure 6.4 3.2
Refused 0.6 0.3


T16 The Tea Party Movement

All GOP (including Leaners)
Very Positive 10.2 16.5
Somewhat Positive 17.7 30.5
Neutral 18.9 20.1
Somewhat Negative 12.0 11.5
Very Negative 28.9 10.7
Don’t Know Name ORNot Sure 11.5 9.9
Refused 0.9 0.9

T17 Nikki Haley

All Registered Voters GOP (including Leaners)
Very Positive 14.5 15.4 23.6
Somewhat Positive 26.8 28.1 40.2
Neutral 18.1 16.1 18.1
Somewhat Negative 14.9 16.6 9.0
Very Negative 18.9 19.6 5.4
Don’t Know Name ORNot Sure 6.0 3.7 3.6
Refused 0.7 0.6 0.2


T18 Thinking about the current path that our nation is taking, do you think our country is on the right track or headed in the wrong direction?

Right Track 17.5
Wrong Direction 75.1
Don’t Know/Refused 7.3


T19 Thinking about the current path that the state of South Carolina is taking, do you think South Carolina is on the right track or headed in the wrong direction?

Right Track 42.1
Wrong Direction 49.9
Don’t Know/Refused 8.0


T20 What do you think is the most important problem facing the United States of America today? (four most frequent mentions)

Politicians/Government 17.1
Economy/Economic-Financial Crisis 15.2
Budget Deficit or Debt 11.1
Jobs/Unemployment 6.1


T21 What do you think is the most important problem facing the State of South Carolina today? (four most frequent mentions)

Jobs/Unemployment 19.6
Education 14.5
Politicians/Government 10.9
Economy/Economic-Financial Crisis 10.5


T22 How would you rate the condition of the national economy these days? Is it very good, fairly good, fairly bad or very bad?

Very Good 1.5
Fairly Good 26.4
Fairly Bad 35.1
Very Bad 35.0
Not Sure 1.9
Refused 0.0


T23 Right now, do you think that economic conditions in the country as a whole are getting better or getting worse?

Getting Better 35.2
Getting Worse 58.0
Not Sure 6.4
Refused 0.3


T24 How would you rate the condition of the economy of South Carolina these days? Is it very good, fairly good, fairly bad, or very bad?

Very Good 2.4
Fairly Good 46.0
Fairly Bad 36.2
Very Bad 10.6
Not Sure 4.6
Refused 0.1


T25 Right now, do you think that economic conditions in South Carolina are getting better or getting worse?

Getting Better 47.2
Getting Worse 37.5
Not Sure 14.8
Refused 0.5


T26 How would you rate your financial situation today? As excellent, good, only fair, or poor?

Excellent 6.1
Good 39.5
Only Fair 39.3
Poor 14.3
Not Sure 0.2
Refused 0.5


T27 Right now, do you think that your financial situation as a whole is getting better or getting worse?

Getting Better 49.6
Getting Worse 37.0
Not Sure/ Refused 12.2
Refused 1.1


T28 As you know, President Obama and the Republicans in Congress did not meet a key deadline for a budget agreement, and this led to a shutdown of the federal government. Who do you think is more to blame for this shutdown, President Obama or the Republicans in Congress? [ANSWERS ROTATED]

President Obama 28.8
Republicans in Congress 47.3
Both Equal (volunteered) 20.3
Not Sure 2.5
Refused 1.1



In 2004, two economists (from the University of Chicago and MIT) conducted an experiment where they sent identical resumes to help wanted ads.  The only differences in the resume were whether they were from (fictitious) individuals who has an either “white” or “black” sounding name.  Overall, resumes with “white” names received 50% more call backs.

(see Bertrand, Marianne and Sendhil Mullainathan. “Are Emily And Greg More Employable Than Lakisha And Jamal? A Field Experiment On Labor Market Discrimination,” American Economic Review, 2004, v94(4,Sep), 991-1013.)

We were interested in discovering (1) if the general population of South Carolina would estimate that an individual who is eligible for welfare benefits should receive more, less, or about the same amount they are actually eligible for and (2) whether the amount the respondents felt the individual should get would differ if the hypothetical recipient had a “white” or “black” sounding name.

Using two of the same first names from the cited study, we conducted a survey-based experiment where approximately half heard the following question with the name “Lakisha Green” and the other half heard the question with the name “Emily Green.”  Whether a survey respondent heard one name or the other was completely random.  Further, survey interviewers were told to adopt one of several racially neutral names for themselves .

Here was the question:

T29 Now we’d like to get your opinion on how much in direct cash benefits a welfare recipient in a certain situation should get here in South Carolina.  I don’t mean food stamps or any other benefits, justdirect cash assistance.  This is sometimes known as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families or the Family Independence program in South Carolina.  Unless there are special circumstances, these benefits are limited to 60 months over an entire lifetime.

Here’s the scenario:

Lakisha Green [note: half heard “Emily Green”] is a 24-year-old single mother with children who are ages 5 and 3.  She works an average of 20 hours a week at minimum wage.  How much money in cash assistance PER MONTH, if any, do you think she should be eligible for?

Average Cash Assistance Among Who Heard the…
Lakisha Version $416.21/month
Emily Version $416.77/month
Combined Average $416.48/month

NOTE: these averages have EXCLUDED extreme values (i.e. any monthly value more than $1,000 dollars)

There is no statistical difference between respondents who heard the Lakisha versus Emily versions.

According to the South Carolina Multi-Agency Partnership Portal using a profile created to match the parameters described in the question and an assumption of low housing costs ($250/month in housing costs and $50 in utilities plus no other income), the individual described in the question would be eligible for up to $216 in TANF/Family Independence each month (up to the 60 month lifetime limit…excluding special circumstances).  This does not include any food benefits (e.g. SNAP) she may be eligible for.


T30 I’m going to read a couple of things that some people do.  For each, thinking about your own values and morals, I’d like you to tell me whether you think it is acceptable or unacceptable.

The first is having a child without being married. Is that acceptable or unacceptable?

Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

Strongly Acceptable 22.0
Somewhat Acceptable 27.8
Somewhat Unacceptable 19.2
Strongly Unacceptable 25.6
Don’t Know/ Not Sure 3.7
Refused 1.7


T31 The next is marriages between blacks and whites.  Is that acceptable or unacceptable?

Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

All White Black
Strongly Acceptable 61.4 54.4 73.3
Somewhat Acceptable 21.7 23.3 20.7
Somewhat Unacceptable 5.3 7.3 1.3
Strongly Unacceptable 8.8 11.9 2.6
Don’t Know/ Not Sure 2.0 2.0 1.7
Refused 0.8 1.0 0.4


T32 The next is adults smoking marijuana.  Is that acceptable or unacceptable?

Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

Strongly Acceptable 19.6
Somewhat Acceptable 22.7
Somewhat Unacceptable 13.8
Strongly Unacceptable 40.8
Don’t Know/ Not Sure 2.5
Refused 0.7


T33 Do you support or oppose programs which make special efforts to help blacks and minorities get ahead as a way of making up for past discrimination?

All White Black
Support 44.3 31.4 75.8
Oppose 48.9 62.0 16.9
Not Sure 5.0 4.9 5.6
Refused 1.8 1.7 1.7


T34 Do you think blacks and other minorities should or should not receive preference in college admissions to make up for past inequalities?

All White Black
Yes, Should 27.3 14.3 60.0
No, Should Not 66.1 80.1 32.6
Not Sure 5.2 4.4 6.5
Refused 1.4 1.2 0.9


T35 In general, would you say you approve or disapprove of the Tea Party movement or are you not familiar enough with the Tea Party movement to have an opinion?

All GOP (including Leaners)
Approve 25.9 45.9
Disapprove 34.1 17.0
Not Familiar Enough 35.3 31.9
Not Sure 3.6 3.3
Refused 1.0 2.0


T36 Would you consider yourself a MEMBER of the Tea Party Movement?

All GOP (including Leaners)
Yes 5.9 10.1
No 88.2 84.7
Not Sure 5.0 3.6
Refused 0.9 1.6