Winthrop Poll

Republican leads in SC’s 7th District race

Voters in new eight-county congressional district favor Tom Rice; Democrat Tinubu disputes poll results

ashain@thestate.comOctober 3, 2012 

Voters in South Carolina’s new congressional district think the country is headed in the wrong direction and jobs are the country’s top issue. They also favor the Republican nominee for the Grand Strand and Pee Dee’s new seat in Congress, according to a Winthrop Poll released Wednesday.

Tom Rice, the Horry County Council chairman, has the backing of 48.9 percent of likely voters over Democrat Gloria Bromell Tinubu, a Coastal Carolina University economist, favored by 36.2 percent, according to the poll. Another 10.3 percent of likely voters said they still were undecided.

Republican Rice said the poll showed voters in the eight-county district, which includes Myrtle Beach, Florence, Dillon, Darlington and Georgetown, are responding to his message.

“We’re just going to keep our head down until the poll that matters next month,” Rice said.

Tinubu’s campaign dismissed the results, saying its internal poll shows a virtual tie in the race. The campaign’s poll gave voters positive and negative messages about both candidates before asking for a preference, Tinubu political director Robin Shipp said.

“This was name-recognition poll only,” Shipp said of the Winthrop Poll.

Most political analysts consider it a good bet that a GOP candidate will win the district, drawn by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

“This poll just shows how difficult a task this is for Tinubu, who has been pounding the pavement to win,” Winthrop political scientist Scott Huffmon said.

To win, Tinubu likely needs Rice to make a mistake. “Rowing alone does not always work; sometimes, you need wind in your sails,” Huffmon said.

On other issues:

• A majority of voters in the district think the country and state are headed in the wrong direction and the economy is bad but getting better. They said jobs, by far, was the top issue for whoever wins the congressional race.

• Nearly half said that being part of the state’s new congressional district would make no difference in their interests being represented. Huffmon said that could mean they are happy or displeased with how their current congressman treats them. A third said they did not realize they lived in a new congressional district.

Rice, who received backing from Gov. Nikki Haley, defeated former Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer in the Republican runoff. Tinubu, a former Georgia lawmaker who moved backed to the region where she was born, surprised Myrtle Beach attorney Preston Brittain to take the Democratic runoff, winning despite opposition from most of the state’s Democratic leadership.

The congressional race question was based on 878 responses gathered from Sept. 23-30 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent. Other poll questions were based on 981 responses with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

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