A new survey touted by one of South Carolina’s largest media outlets is downplaying the impact of former U.S. president Donald Trump’s endorsement in a contested “Republican” primary election in the Palmetto State – while elevating his former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley to the level of a god.
But who conducted the poll? Who paid for it? And why isn’t the media outlet touting its results sharing this important information with its readers so they can judge its authenticity and validity for themselves?
Could it be this survey is just another “push poll” (a.k.a. political propaganda disguised as legitimate public opinion research)?
Reporter Caitlin Byrd of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper penned a lengthy report over the weekend on the status of the South Carolina first congressional race – which pits incumbent congresswoman Nancy Mace against a trio of rivals: Former state representative Katie Arrington, retired lieutenant colonel Ingrid Centurion and military caregiver Lynz Piper-Loomis.
Of the three challengers, Arrington is considered the most credible considering she narrowly lost a bid for this seat in 2018 – and since she has already received Trump’s endorsement.
In fact, this is one of two contested South Carolina GOP congressional races in which Trump has endorsed a challenger over the incumbent (in the state’s seventh congressional district, Trump has endorsed state representative Russell Fry in his bid against incumbent Tom Rice).
Haley has endorsed Mace, but as of this writing she has not endorsed Rice.
Anyway, according to Byrd’s article a “recent poll of 400 likely GOP primary voters” in the first district showed Mace “with a double-digit lead over her primary challengers – even in a head-to-head contest with a Trump-endorsed Arrington.”
Specifically, Mace led Arrington by a 54-25 percent margin without Trump’s endorsement, according to the poll – a lead which shrank to 46-31 percent with Trump’s backing factored in.
The survey was ostensibly conducted between February 9-10, 2022. If true, that means it was already “in the field” (i.e. underway) at the time Trump endorsed Arrington.
Curiously, the poll purportedly found Haley enjoying a net favorability rating of +62 percentage points among GOP primary voters in the district – although it declined to reveal her favorability numbers (or the favorability numbers of any other politicians).
Also, the poll “did not quantify what impact, if any, Haley’s endorsement had on the contest.”
Haley endorsed Mace on February 7, 2022 – two days before the survey was conducted (and two days before Trump endorsed Arrington). Wait … so are we really to believe this poll provided accurate data on a Trump endorsement that hadn’t happened yet but failed to offer any insight on a Haley endorsement that had already happened?
That strikes me as incredulous … yet The State made its takeaway from the data abundantly clear.
“Nikki Haley isn’t just well-liked,” Byrd wrote of the results. “She’s beloved.”
According to Byrd, “the poll’s findings were shared exclusively with The State newspaper along with its methodology,” although again, she declined to identify who conducted the poll or who paid for it. Nor did she provide any of the details she was purportedly provided as to its “methodology.” The general consensus is the survey was funded by a super political action committee (PAC) supporting Mace in the upcoming election – although it makes no sense why Byrd wouldn’t just come out and say that.
As I noted in a recent “Week in Review” segment, the proxy war between Haley and Trump could go a long way in determining the next president of the United States – or at the very least the next GOP nominee.
“Trump may run for president again in 2024,” I noted in that segment. “And if he does that, he’s got to come through South Carolina, which holds the ‘First in the South’ presidential primary. How well Trump’s candidates perform in the 2022 election could have a significant impact on how well Trump himself performs when he comes before South Carolina voters.”
As for Haley, she is now “standing in the way of Trump’s efforts to reshape the U.S. Congress … hoping to turn (the first district) congressional race into a referendum on their competing visions for the future of the party,” I noted.
The current election schedule calls for candidates to file their paperwork during the final two weeks of March. Primary elections would then be held on June 14, 2022 with runoffs set for two weeks later on June 28, 2022 (in South Carolina, if no candidate receives more than fifty percent of the ballots in a primary race, a runoff election is held two weeks later between the top two vote-getters).
However, this schedule is likely to be delayed by weeks – perhaps months – due to court challenges to the Palmetto State’s recently redrawn congressional districts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats – including that Charleston RiverDogs’ “Perros Santos” lid pictured above.
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