Poll shows McMaster with big lead over Warren heading into GOP primary runoff

SC Gov. Henry McMaster reacts to his win and runoff in the primary

South Carolina governor Henry McMaster received the most votes in the primary election but will be in a runoff with John Warren.
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South Carolina governor Henry McMaster received the most votes in the primary election but will be in a runoff with John Warren.

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster has just more than 60 percent support among likely GOP primary runoff voters, according to new polling from the Atlanta-based Trafalgar Group.

Greenville businessman John Warren, who faces McMaster in a June 26 runoff for the Republican Party's nomination, garnered just more than 30 percent support among likely voters, according to the poll.

However, the poll was taken before Warren received the endorsement of the third- and fourth-place finishers in Tuesday's GOP primary.

The poll, conducted Wednesday and Thursday, surveyed just more than 1,000 likely GOP voters across the state via email, cellphone and landline.

McMaster polled at 53.86 percent support, with another 6.25 percent "leaning" or inclined to vote for the Richland Republican. Warren received 28.29 percent support, with another 2.9 percent leaning his way. Slightly less than 9 percent of those polled refused to answer or were undecided.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points and a 95 percent confidence level.

Likely voters were surveyed "in the immediate aftermath of the election, and don't reflect any news about endorsements that could impact the race," said pollster Robert C. Cahaly, senior strategist with the Trafalgar Group.

Warren received a major boost Thursday in his bid to unseat McMaster in the June 26 runoff, picking up the endorsement of two former GOP primary rivals. Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant of Anderson and Mount Pleasant attorney Catherine Templeton endorsed Warren during a Columbia news conference.

Cahaly said the poll reflects the sway that President Donald Trump holds over Republican voters in the state, as also evidenced by U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford's defeat Tuesday by freshman state Rep. Katie Arrington.

Arrington, a Summerville Republican, was powered by a strong last-minute endorsement from Trump, who also has endorsed McMaster. Sanford, a former governor and GOP political fixture for a quarter century, has been critical of Trump. But before Tuesday's GOP primary defeat, the Charleston Republican had never lost an election.

"(Trump's) endorsement seemed powerful on Monday, but … Trump's endorsement seems even stronger now," Cahaly said.

Asked Friday about Trump's influence on GOP primary voters, Warren argued that his resume as a self-made businessman reads more like Trump's than McMaster's. Trump endorsed McMaster in October. But Warren, who said he supports the president, suggested Trump might have endorsed him had he entered the race sooner.

Cahaly said the poll was paid for by his firm.

Though he wasn't elected, Henry McMaster was sworn in as Governor of South Carolina after former Gov. Nikki Haley became U.S. Ambassador of the UN. Here is what we know of McMaster's policies since he took office.

Tom Barton: 803-771-8304, @tjbarton83
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