U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has the support of 49 percent of Republican primary voters, leaving him “perched” to clinch his party’s nomination June 10, likely without a runoff, according to a new poll.
Graham’s challengers trail in the single digits.
One-in-three voters still is undecided, meaning Graham could pick up the more than 50 percent of the primary votes that he needs to avoid a runoff, according to Clemson University’s Palmetto Poll of 400 likely GOP primary voters.
Forty-six percent of GOP voters also say they would vote to re-elect the Seneca incumbent regardless of who runs against him, up from 31 percent in a September poll.
“GOP voters in South Carolina, like those in other parts of the country, seem content to return their incumbent office holders to power,” Clemson political scientist Dave Woodard said.
The Palmetto Poll shows state Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, in second place with 9 percent, followed by Easley businessman Richard Cash at 3 percent, Charleston businesswoman Nancy Mace at 2 percent, and Columbia pastor Det Bowers and Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor at 1 percent each. Columbia attorney Benjamin Dunn's support did not register.
The outlook on the June 10 primary could change from the poll, taken May 22, Woodard said. But, he added, “That's a 40 percent gap, so we don't think anybody can make that up.”
When asked who they plan to vote for in November's general election, the GOP primary voters surveyed said overwhelmingly Gov. Nikki Haley, R-Lexington.
Haley was favored by 73 percent of the Republicans surveyed. State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, a Camden Democrat, won 6 percent of the GOP vote, and Greenville attorney Tom Ervin, who dropped out of the GOP primary to run as an “Independent Republican” petition candidate, got 2 percent.
The poll is run in part by Woodard, who vocally opposed Haley's run for governor in 2010. The support for Haley is similar to that found in other polls, including a February Winthrop University survey that showed her popularity among Republicans at 78 percent.
In a separate poll of 400 likely Democratic voters in that party’s U.S. Senate primary, state Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, took 8 percent of the vote, leading Columbia's Jay Stamper, who registered at 3 percent. However, 74 percent of voters said they still were undecided.