Cap Report: What S.C. thinks about Sanford, Graham, DeMint and the race for governor

December 13, 2009 

Recent polls gauge voter preferences.

Majority says 'no' to impeachment

In the days leading up to the impeachment panel vote, a majority of South Carolina voters in one poll said Gov. Mark Sanford should not be impeached. But the S.C. governor's popularity has plummeted since his June disappearance and admission of carrying on an extramarital affair.

Just 36 percent of voters approve of Sanford, according to Public Policy Polling. But a majority, 58 percent, do not think the embattled governor should be impeached. In addition, fewer favor Sanford's resignation, 45 percent, than think he should finish out his term, 47 percent, which ends in January 2011.

Sanford's approval numbers are a far cry from the 70 percent and 80 percent support that Sanford typically enjoyed in polls during his second term.

DeMint strong in one poll, vulnerable in another

U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint has the support of 47 percent of voters 11 months before election day, a total comparable with other Republican U.S. senators considered to be vulnerable to a challenge, according to the poll's creator.

But a second poll released last week shows nearly two-thirds of state voters polled view DeMint favorably, while only one-quarter view him unfavorably.

DeMint is ahead of a generic Democrat 47 percent to 38 percent, according to the first poll. The poll's conductor, Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling, argues the mark of a strong incumbent is 50 percent or more approval. DeMint's is up for re-election for a second six-year term in 2010.

The second poll, conducted by Rasmussen Reports, did not poll DeMint's re-election prospects but found 63 percent of those polled viewed DeMint favorably, which is considered a strong favorability rating.

The poll also gauged DeMint's support among Republicans compared with S.C.'s senior U.S. senator, Lindsey Graham. According to Rasmussen, 51 percent of Republicans surveyed said the GOP should be more like DeMint than Graham. Only 3 percent of Republicans surveyed had an unfavorable view of DeMint.

Both polls were automated phone surveys, but PPP polled registered voters while Rasmussen queried likely voters - which some pollsters believe yields more accurate results.

Graham rates low among Republicans, high overall

Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has vast crossover appeal, but he also has among the lowest approval ratings of any senator within his own party, according to polling conducted by Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling.

But another poll, conducted by Rasmussen, comes to the opposite conclusion, showing Graham with a 65 percent approval rating within his party.

Graham has found himself at odds with the far right. On two high-profile issues important to them, immigration reform and climate change, Graham angered some conservatives.

Graham, according to PPP, has the support of 43 percent of South Carolina voters and is opposed by 35 percent of voters polled. Among Republicans, Graham's support is 46 percent, with 34 percent disapproving of the state's senior U.S. senator.

Out of 28 senators PPP has measured approval ratings for in the past six months, that makes Graham one of just three with the support of less than 50 percent of his party's voters.

But a poll released last week by Rasmussen paints a different picture. In that poll, Graham has a 65 percent favorable rating among Republicans and a 61 percent favorable rating among self-identified conservatives. Among independents, Graham has a 55 percent favorable rating, considered a strong indicator of electability.

Both polls were automated phone surveys, but PPP polled registered voters while Rasmussen queried likely voters.

McMaster, Rex favored in governor's race

Few of the candidates seeking to be the state's next governor are well known among voters.

But S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster, a Republican, and S.C. schools chief Jim Rex, a Democrat, appear to be the early favorites, according to a Public Policy Polling poll released last week.

McMaster has a 36 percent favorable rating among the Republican candidates, followed by Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who polls at 23 percent favorable, and U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, who polls at 19 percent favorable.

Among Democrats, 27 percent of those polled viewed Rex favorably, with 20 percent giving Sen. Robert Ford of Charleston a favorable rating. Sixteen percent of those polled gave Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden a favorable rating.

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