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SC1: Early GOP Poll Favors Katie Arrington, Mark Sanford

Survey offers first glimpse at upcoming South Carolina first congressional district primary …

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Former GOP congressional nominee Katie Arrington and outgoing congressman Mark Sanford are the runaway leaders in an early poll of Republican voters in the South Carolina first congressional district (map).

The poll – which with one exception used our initial field for this race – found Arrington with the backing of 32 percent of likely GOP primary voters, besting Sanford’s 26 percent.

Arrington defeated Sanford in the GOP primary back in June before narrowly losing to Democrat Joe Cunningham last week.

Arrington, 47, has vowed to run again in 2020 – and reiterated her intentions during a radio interview in Charleston, S.C. early Monday.  Sanford has not said yet whether he will run.

According to reported Jamie Lovegrove, who broke the news of the poll for The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, Arrington and Sanford’s top billing was “expected” because of their high name identification within the district.

A surprise third-place finisher?  Fiscally conservative state senator Tom Davis – who drew the support of nine percent of likely GOP voters.  Given his base is in Beaufort County – and given he has never sought districtwide (or statewide) office – that is an impressive print.

Also impressing us with her number?  First-term state representative Nancy Mace, who listed as the first choice of seven percent of likely GOP voters.  Mace – the first female graduate of The Citadel – won a special election for her House seat in January.  The fact she is already approaching double-digits among Republican voters strikes us as a very positive sign for her political future.

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The poll was conducted between November 8-10 by South Carolina-based Ivory Tusk consulting and Florida-based Political Marketing International, according to Lovegrove.  It surveyed 2,291 likely GOP voters via a mix of cellular and land lines, and has a two percent margin of error.

How did others fare?  State senator Larry Grooms – who is reportedly not seeking the seat – clocked in at four percent, while S.C. house oversight chairman Weston Newton and former GOP gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton were backed by three percent of respondents.  Beaufort County treasurer Maria Walls was backed by one percent, which is pretty impressive considering she holds a county office outside the major population center of the district.

The remaining fifteen percent of those surveyed indicated they were “unsure of who they would vote for or supported a candidate not included on the list,” according to Lovegrove.

“There will be no shortage of credible contenders,” we wrote in our expansive preview of this field last week, “which makes sense considering the 2010 race for this seat drew ten GOP challengers and the 2013 special election drew a whopping sixteen aspirants.”

Indeed.  After we published our article, a follow-up report revealed that several other candidates – including Charleston County councilman Elliott Summey , state senator Chip Campsen and Charleston County GOP chairman Larry Kobrovsky – were also considering mounting a bid for this seat.

Pollsters noted that the GOP field could face an uphill climb – especially if Cunningham sticks to his promise to oppose liberal Washington leader Nancy Pelosi.

“Perhaps the most interesting question we asked was whether or not Joe Cunningham deserved a chance to serve or if Republicans should find a candidate to run against Cunningham as soon as possible,” said Jerry Dorchuck, president of Political Marketing International. “Surprisingly, 42 percent of likely GOP primary voters said Cunningham deserves a chance.”

Another sizable chunk of the district’s GOP electorate is dissimilarly inclined …

To wit: U.S. president Donald Trump also remains “exceedingly popular” among GOP Voters in the district, with 41 percent of respondents saying “the most important quality of a Republican nominee for Congress is his or her support of President Trump.”

“If President Trump’s approval rating remains sky-high among GOPers, it will be tough for any Never-Trumper to breakthrough,” Ivory Tusk president RJ May III said.

To view the full release on the survey, click here.  To view a report on the poll, scroll through the document below …

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(Via: Ivory Tusk Consulting/ Political Marketing International)

Also, stay tuned for more analysis on these results in a forthcoming post …

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