ELECTION 2014: New poll shows Graham below 50 percent needed to avoid runoff

Posted by ADAM BEAM and JAMIE SELF on February 6, 2014 

APTOPIX Republicans Rice

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE — AP

— Sen. Lindsey Graham leads his nearest Republican challenger by 28 percentage points, according to a new poll from Wenzel strategies.

But the poll -- paid for and released Thursday by the campaign of state Sen. Lee Bright, one of four Republicans vying to unseat Graham in June's primary -- shows Graham did not get more than 50 percent of the vote, which he would need to avoid a runoff election. That's important because, with a crowded Republican primary field, the only way a challenger has a chance is to get into a runoff.

More than 22 percent of those polled were undecided.

The poll included 623 "likely Republican primary voters" who were questioned through an automated telephone survey conducted in the evening between Feb. 3-4. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percent.

The poll randomly selected from a pool of South Carolina residents who voted in two of the past three Republican primaries, said Fritz Wenzel, the company's president.

The automated survey screened callers by asking them if they were likely to vote in June's Republican primary, Wenzel said, adding that the representative sample was balanced to reflect voter turnout, gender and age.

While most of those polled said they would vote for Graham, when asked if Graham deserved to be reelected, 49 percent said it was "time for someone new."

Wenzel strategies is a polling firm based in Ohio, whose clients include U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky and a potential 2016 presidential candidate. The firm conducted polling in South Carolina in 2011 and 2012 for U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who sought the GOP presidential nomination.

POLL RESULTS

If the election were held today, who would you vote for?

  • Lindsey Graham: 45.9 percent
  • Lee Bright 17.4 percent
  • Nancy Mace: 5.1 percent
  • Richard Cash: 4.9 percent
  • Bill Connor: 4.2 percent
  • Not sure: 22.5 percent.

Should Lindsey Graham be reelected or is it time for someone new?

  • Deserves reelection: 38 percent
  • Time for someone new: 49 percent
  • Not sure: 13 perent
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