Both Republicans and Democrats soured on S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster’s job performance during the first half of the year, but the Columbia Republican still remains fairly popular.
McMaster is one of several governors running for re-election in November who saw modest drops in their approval ratings, according to new polling from Morning Consult.
The S.C. governor saw his net approval rating — the difference between those who approve of his performance and those who disapprove — dip six points from the first to the second quarters of the year. However, McMaster still is viewed positively by more South Carolinians than those who disapprove — by 20 percentage points — and is the top half of U.S. governors in overall popularity.
“Henry McMaster has spent the last year and a half as governor fighting for ratepayers, pushing for lower taxes and attracting new jobs and investment — more people are working in South Carolina than ever before,” said McMaster campaign spokeswoman Caroline Anderegg. “It is no surprise that he continues to enjoy strong support from voters across the state.”
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Forty-eight percent of more than 5,808 registered S.C. voters surveyed from April through June said they approved of McMaster, while 28 percent disapproved. A quarter were undecided or had no opinion.
Among Democrats, McMaster’s approval dropped to 29 percent from 33 percent. Among Republicans, it fell to 69 percent from 71 percent.
The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus a percentage point.
That compares to 50 approval and 24 percent disapproval for McMaster from January through March.
“The Republican primary had an effect (on McMaster’s approval rating) as well as the Democrats ramping up,” said Morning Consult’s Cameron Easley. “It’s not unusual for a governor, or any politician’s, approval to drop during an election year.”
McMaster clinched the Republican Party’s nomination in June but only after being dragged into a hard-fought runoff with Greenville businessman John Warren.
During the contentious five-candidate GOP primary, McMaster’s challengers labeled the governor a career politician and do-nothing good ol’ boy tied to the odor of corruption in state government.
Clemson University political scientist Dave Woodard chalked up McMaster’s lower approval rating to voter fatigue with politicians, and Warren’s appeal as a fresh-faced, conservative outsider. But, in the end, a majority of Republican voters coalesced around the incumbent.
“It was not throw the rascals out,” Woodard said. “That doesn’t mean they’re happy with the rascals, but (voters) didn’t think so badly of them to get rid of them.”
Woodard sees similar parallels with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca.
Morning Consult found Graham continues to have a high disapproval rating in his home state. While not cracking the poll’s top 10 of least-popular senators, Graham had a 41 percent approval rating and and a 40 percent disapproval rating. Nineteen percent of those surveyed were unsure of Graham’s job performance or had no opinion.
“He’s still very viable as a politician, same thing for (McMaster),” Woodard said. “He’s well known and, even if you don’t like him, you feel like you know him, and that’s a good thing.”
South Carolina’s junior U.S. senator, Republican Tim Scott of North Charleston, fared better with a 53 percent approval rating and 22 percent disapproval rating.