The Buzz

Walker gaining in 2016 S.C. presidential race

Scott Walker
Scott Walker AP

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker looks to have momentum in South Carolina’s 2016 Republican presidential primary, according to a new poll.

Meanwhile, South Carolina’s homegrown hopeful, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of Seneca, is lagging the front-runners, the poll found.

Walker holds a slight lead over former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a Winthrop Poll of 956 likely S.C. Republican voters released Wednesday.

Walker has support among key GOP factions in the Palmetto State. He led among voters who identify themselves as evangelicals and Tea Party supporters, the poll found.

The Badger State boss also has led in recent polls in other early-voting states, Iowa and New Hampshire.

“He’s solid for now,” Winthrop political scientist Scott Huffmon said. “But I think there will be more room at the top as name recognition grows and money starts coming into these PACs.”

Bush, Walker and Graham each have led at least one S.C. poll done by pollsters this year.

But Graham was fourth in the poll conducted by Rock Hill’s Winthrop University. Graham is running between U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, in third, and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, in fifth, according to the poll.

Graham fared poorly among GOP voters who identified themselves as evangelicals or Tea Party supporters, ranking seventh and eighth, respectively, among 14 candidates.

Only New York real estate mogul Donald Trump topped Graham in the percentage of S.C. GOP voters who said they would not consider casting ballots for a candidate. Of those surveyed, 84.2 percent said they would not vote for Trump and 54.9 percent said they would not vote for Graham.

Huffmon blamed S.C. voters’ familiarity with Graham for that result. More voters had an opinion of Graham than any other candidate included in the poll, taken from April 4-12.

Bush was the second choice among evangelicals followed by Cruz, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

Tea Party supporters favored Cruz behind Walker. Next, in order, were Bush, Paul, Huckabee and Carson.

Huckabee and Bush — at 51.6 percent and 49 percent, respectively — received the most support when voters were asked which candidates they would consider voting for.

Still, Walker did best in the field in another category: At 11.7 percent, he had the smallest percentage of voters who said they would not consider casting a ballot for a candidate, the poll found.

While S.C. Republicans have a reputation for conservatism, most of those polled said they believe a moderate Republican has a better chance of winning the presidency than a strong conservative — 60.2 percent to 36.8 percent.

There also was evidence in the Winthrop Poll that the primary still is 10 months away. One out of four likely S.C. GOP has not picked a favorite.

Winthrop Poll

The Winthrop Poll surveyed 956 S.C. likely Republican voters between April 4 and 12, asking their favorite in the 2016 S.C. Republican presidential primary. What the poll found:

Scott Walker: 13.6%                                                                              

Jeb Bush: 12.7%                                                                                          

Ted Cruz: 8.1%                                                                                          

Lindsey Graham: 7.6%                                                                             

Rand Paul: 6.2%                                                                                       

Chris Christie: 5%                                                                                  

Ben Carson: 4.9%                                                                                     

Mike Huckabee: 4.9%                                                                               

Marco Rubio: 4%                                                                                   

Rick Perry: 1.9%                                                                                        

Donald Trump: 1.9%                                                                                

Bobby Jindal: 0.9%                                                                                  

Rick Santorum: 0.3%                                                                               

John Bolton: 0.2%

NOTE: Poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 3.2 percentage points