He’s coming to visit Friday. But the reception could be lukewarm.
More than half of South Carolinians remain dissatisfied with President Barack Obama’s job performance, according to a Winthrop Poll released Wednesday.
Fifty-two percent of 1,109 S.C. adults surveyed between Feb. 21 and March 1 said they do not think Obama is doing a good job as the nation’s commander in chief. About 41 percent approve of the president.
South Carolinians, who last voted for a Democratic candidate for president in 1976, have thought better and worse of Obama.
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Obama’s approval rating peaked at 48 percent in December 2012, just a month after he won a second term. That peak likely stemmed from the Democrat’s re-election victory, said Winthrop Poll director Scott Huffmon.
Obama’s approval rating hit an all-time low in the state last April, when only 37 percent of those surveyed by Winthrop approved of his job performance.
The president’s current 41 percent approval rating in South Carolina is not a surprise, Huffmon added.
“We are always lagging the nation with approval of Obama,” the political scientist said. “But currently, he is in the middle of a mud-slinging fight with Congress. So all the news you get about him are congressional Republicans bashing him or him bashing back, and that's not going to improve anybody's approval rating.”
Six percent of S.C. adults said they were not sure what they thought about Obama’s performance.
The Winthrop Poll was released just two days before Obama is scheduled to visit Benedict College, a historically black private college in Columbia.
The Friday stop will be Obama’s first trip to the Palmetto State since Jan. 26, 2008, when the then-U.S. senator won the state’s Democratic presidential primary. That victory — in which he crushed then-U.S. Sen Hillary Clinton of New York and S.C. native John Edwards — played a large role in Obama winning the Democratic nomination.
But, while S.C. Democrats like Obama, S.C. voters twice voted against him for president, giving him only 45 percent of the state’s vote in 2008 and 44 percent in 2012.
Obama is visiting Columbia at the request of top S.C. Democratic leaders, a day before he heads to Selma, Ala., for the 50th anniversary of that city’s violent civil-rights march.
Obama’s visit to the Palmetto State could fire up S.C. Republicans, who see their party’s victories in the 2014 midterm elections as a referendum on the president’s record. But the visit likely will have little impact on the president’s S.C. approval rating, political scientists said.
For S.C. Democrats, however, Obama’s visit could be a “shot in the arm,” much needed after losing big in November and other recent elections, Huffmon said, adding, “The rank and file Democrat is tired of losing every election.”
The visit “can’t hurt,” said Citadel political scientist Scott Buchanan. “Some Democrats privately admit they're already at rock bottom.”