Politics & Government

SC roads, services not keeping up with growth, poll finds

South Carolina Deadly Roads - A family's story

Amy and David Lee lost their 19-year-old daughter Grayson Ann Lee, when she ran off the road and hit a tree in the median near mile marker 183 on I-26 in 2014. The Lees say the area should have been lined with cable barriers which could have saved their daughter's life.
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Amy and David Lee lost their 19-year-old daughter Grayson Ann Lee, when she ran off the road and hit a tree in the median near mile marker 183 on I-26 in 2014. The Lees say the area should have been lined with cable barriers which could have saved their daughter's life.

As South Carolina’s crumbling roads are debated at the State House, most South Carolinians think other state services also have not kept pace with the state’s growing population, according to a new poll of South Carolinians by Winthrop University.

Meanwhile, South Carolinians remain unimpressed with Donald Trump, the poll found, with more disapproving of the way the new Republican president is doing his job than approving.

The poll’s findings concerning faltering state services come after a series of high-profile failures — the deaths of children under the care of the state’s Social Services Department, dam failures, a riot at a youth prison and, most recently, a mass murder at a state prison.

Sixty-two percent of those surveyed by Winthrop said they strongly or somewhat strongly feel that roads are not alone in failing to keep pace with the state’s growth. Almost two of every three South Carolinians surveyed said other state services — including highway troopers, social workers, mental health experts and schools — have not kept up with the state’s growth.

Only 11 percent of the S.C. residents surveyed felt those services had kept up with growth.

The condition of the state’s roads, bridges and infrastructure were the concerns cited most often by South Carolinians in the poll, released Thursday. Other concerns included the state of education, jobs or joblessness, and racism.

▪ The poll also found President Donald Trump remains unpopular among S.C. voters.

Among those polled, 47 percent disapprove of the job Trump is doing early in his presidency, while 43 percent approve. The finding lines up with the last Winthrop Poll, released in February.

▪ South Carolinians similarly are gloomy about the state of the country, with 60 percent saying it is headed in the wrong direction.

But there are some silver linings in the poll.

Trump, for example, can take solace in the fact that he remains popular with his GOP base, winning the approval of 79 percent of S.C. Republicans and S.C. residents who lean Republican.

More than half of those surveyed — 54 percent — also say South Carolina is moving in a positive direction.

Also, two-thirds say both the national and state economy is “very good” or “fairly good.” Nearly 54 percent described their own economic situation as “good” or “excellent.”

Other poll findings include:

▪ A little more than two months after he took office, Gov. Henry McMaster has the approval of 47 percent of the state’s residents, while only 21 percent disapprove. However, more than one in four South Carolinians — 28 percent — said they did not know enough about McMaster to offer an opinion on his job performance.

“The key for Gov. McMaster” — who will seek his own four-year term in 2018, after rising from lieutenant governor when Gov. Nikki Haley resigned to join the Trump Administration — “are those 28 percent who have yet to form an opinion of his job performance,” said Winthrop Poll director Scott Huffmon. “More than a quarter of South Carolinians are taking a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude in these early days of his administration.”

▪ The S.C. Legislature has the same 47 percent approval rating. But 38 percent said they disapproved of the way state lawmakers — unable to pass a bill to pay to repair the state roads — are doing their jobs.

▪ U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, has a disapproval rating of 47 percent versus 45 percent who approve of the state’s senior senator.

That net negative approval rating — with more South Carolinians disapproving of Graham than approving — is not a good sign for an incumbent. However, it is in line with another recent poll that found Graham to be one of the country’s least popular senators in his home state.

▪ On the other hand, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-Charleston, has a 60 percent approval rating, including an 82 percent approval rating among Republicans and GOP “leaners.”

Graham’s approval rating among Republicans was just under 50 percent.

The latest Winthrop Poll surveyed 878 S.C. residents who use land phone line and cell phones between April 2 and 11.

Evaluating Trump

Winthrop asked 878 S.C. residents their opinion of new Republican President Donald Trump, asking whether they approved or disapproved of his job performance thus far.

Approve: 43%

Disapprove: 47%

Don’t know/declined to answer: 11%

Among S.C. Republicans and GOP leaners only

Approve: 79%

Disapprove: 11%

Don’t know/declined to answer: 11%

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