Historically, the results of Winthrop University’s political polls have skewed much further to the left than conventional surveys of registered (or likely) voters – and as a result, are of little value in determining the outcome of elections in South Carolina.
I have written in the past about this poll’s findings, urging readers to take them cum grano salis. Or rather cum oceanum salis.
Poll director Scott Huffmon zealously defends his work, though … and his latest survey does seem to do a better job delineating between the perceptions of the general population of the Palmetto State and of those registered voters who show up for GOP primary elections (a.k.a. the segment of the state’s electorate which purportedly decides things in this ostensibly “bright red” early voting barometer).
Huffmon’s new numbers show former U.S. president Donald Trump continuing to dominate the ‘First in the South’ GOP presidential primary – drawing 41 percent support of all “Republicans who are registered to vote.” Florida governor Ron DeSantis is in second place with 20 percent support while former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley is right on his heels with 18 percent support.
Haley and DeSantis are technically tied for second place given the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.45 percent for this question.
No other candidate – or prospective candidate – is drawing double digits, according to the survey. U.S senator Tim Scott – whose entry into the 2022 race is imminent – was backed by 7 percent of voters while former vice president Mike Pence was supported by 5 percent.
The Winthrop poll is the first published survey regarding “First in the South” GOP preferences since January, when the Atlanta, Georgia-based Trafalgar Group released a survey showing Trump with 43.4 percent of the GOP electorate, DeSantis with 27.8 percent, Scott with 14.3 percent and Haley with 11.6 percent.
Winthrop’s poll based its conclusions on a sample of 485 registered GOP voters. Trafalgar’s poll (.pdf) surveyed 1,078 “likely GOP presidential primary voters.”
Haley is clearly on the move in her native state – where she served as a state representative from 2004-2010 and as governor from 2011-2017. The 51-year-old Bamberg, S.C. native announced her candidacy in late January and officially launched her campaign in Charleston, S.C. two weeks later. She has been holding well-attended rallies across the Palmetto State ever since – and so far remains one of the only frontrunners to offer something resembling substantive proposals on core fiscal issues.
Can Haley be trusted to keep her word, though? Eh …
(Click to view)
Meanwhile, support for DeSantis status has clearly slipped … which makes his first public appearance in South Carolina next Wednesday (April 19, 2023) all the more critical for him.
Trump has welcomed Haley into the 2024 presidential race with open arms – which is odd considering how harshly she criticized him in the aftermath of the January 6, 2021 rioting at the U.S. Capitol. By contrast, he has been bashing DeSantis for months – referring to him as “Meatball Ron” and “Ron DeSanctimonius.”
What gives with the Haley-Trump détente?
One possible reason is Trump needs Haley (and other Republican candidates) in the race to avoid a head-to-head battle with DeSantis – who has fared better against the former president one-on-one as opposed to being the top Trump alternative in a crowded field.
Republicans kick off their primary process with the Iowa Caucus on February 5, 2024. New Hampshire comes eight days later (February 13, 2024) followed by South Carolina and Nevada (February 24, 2024). As for Democrats, they are currently scheduled to kick off their primary process in the Palmetto State on February 3, 2024 followed by New Hampshire and Nevada (February 6, 2024), Georgia (February 13, 2024) and Michigan (February 27, 2024).
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.
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