Sen. Robert Ford, an underdog Democratic candidate for governor, holds a second-place position in the five-person primary race, according to an internal poll conducted by Jim Rex's campaign.
About 400 likely Democratic voters were quizzed on which candidates' names they recognized and their opinions of those candidates.
Rex, the state's schools superintendent, led the Democratic candidates with a 41 percent favorable rating. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they did not know who Rex was.
- Ford, D-Charleston, came in second with 32 percent of respondents holding a favorable opinion. Fifty-one percent of those polled did not know Ford.
- Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw, took third place with 23 percent of respondents holding a positive opinion of the attorney and 63 percent not knowing him.
- Columbia attorney Dwight Drake and Charleston attorney Mullins McLeod rounded out the poll with 18 percent and 16 percent favorable ratings, respectively. Nearly 70 percent of respondents did not recognize either of them.
In a second question in which respondents ranked the candidates according to who they'd most likely support in the June primary, more than 40 percent said they were undecided.
Rex took a quarter of the votes, Ford 15 percent and Sheheen 10 percent.
Ford was pleased with the results.
"I'm the greatest and the most passionate senator in American history," Ford said. "Somebody who is out there every day fighting for the good of the citizens, everyday citizens, that's what people want. That's what I do."
Ford, a Charleston businessman, has a fundraising gap.
So far, he's raised nearly $52,000, including a $25,000 bank loan and $3,000 of his own money.
All of the other Democrats have more money, with Sheheen in the lead with nearly $736,000 on hand.
Others dismissed the internal poll as premature.
"Polls this early are obviously about name ID," said Lachlan McIntosh, McLeod's campaign adviser, saying most voters are undecided. "Regular voters are not paying attention at all at this point."