U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham would get 49 percent of the Republican primary vote with his challengers trailing in single digits and one-in-three voters still undecided, according to a new Clemson University poll.
The survey of 400 likely GOP primary voters indicates that Graham could be "perched" to win the primary outright, said political scientists Dave Woodard and Bruce Ransom in a webcast news conference about the poll.
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.
Another factor favoring Graham is that GOP voters increasingly say they would vote to re-elect the Seneca incumbent regardless of who runs against him -- at 46 percent in the new poll, up from 31 percent of voters in a September poll.
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The outlook on June 10 could change from the poll, taken between May 22 and May 29, Woodard said, but "that's a 40 percent gap, so we don't think anybody can make that up."
GOP primary voters picked Gov. Nikki Haley, R-Lexington, overwhelmingly when asked how they plan to vote in November's general election.
Haley received 73 percent support from Republicans, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, a Camden Democrat, earned 6 percent of the GOP vote in the poll, and Greenville attorney Tom Ervin, who dropped out of the GOP primary to run as an "Independent Republican" petition candidate, earned 2 percent of the vote.
The poll is run in part by Woodard who vocally opposed Haley's run for governor. However, support for Haley is similar to what she's earned in other polls, including a February Winthrop University survey that showed her popularity among Republicans peaking at 78 percent.
In a separate poll of 400 likely Democratic primary voters, state Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, took 8 percent of the vote, leading Columbia's Jay Stamper, who registered at 3 percent. In that race, 74 percent of voters said they were still undecided. Stamper moved to the state from Washington to run against Graham. Hutto entered the race late, just as filing closed in March.