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Poll: Most want Graham to drop out of race

Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican presidential candidate in Myrtle Beach on Monday, Sept. 28, 2015.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican presidential candidate in Myrtle Beach on Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. jblackmon@thesunnews.com

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s presidential campaign is losing ground in his home state, according to a new poll.

Eighty-four percent of likely S.C. GOP voters say Graham, the Seneca Republican who is the state’s senior U.S. senator, should drop out of the presidential race, according to a new poll released Tuesday by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling.

The poll also found Graham’s support in South Carolina dropping, hitting 2 percent from 13 percent in a February Public Policy poll.

The GOP presidential poll interviewed 787 likely S.C. GOP primary voters Saturday and Sunday. Its release preceded a GOP presidential debate on Fox Business Network Tuesday night. Graham was not allowed to take part because of low polling numbers.

The poll found Donald Trump remains the GOP frontrunner in South Carolina, but his support is slipping.

Trump picked up 25 percent support from likely S.C. GOP primary voters, down from 37 percent support in September. Trump’s likeability also fell to 53 percent from 64 percent among GOP voters.

In second place was Ben Carson whose support held steady at 21 percent, a sign that recent controversies about his biography have not impacted his standing among GOP voters, the poll said.

Carson – a retired neurosurgeon who, like Trump, has no political experience – had the highest favorability rating of any GOP candidate – 69 percent.

However, the poll found U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio gaining ground on the frontrunners. Cruz of Texas and Rubio of Florida polled at 15 percent and 13 percent, respectively, each gaining 9 percentage points from September.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was in fifth place with 8 percent support, followed by former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina at 5 percent.

All of the other GOP candidates polled at 3 percent or less.

In two polls also released Tuesday, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton continued to hold strong leads over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Clinton had 78 percent backing from S.C. Democratic primary voters, leading Sanders at 18 percent and O’Malley at 5 percent, according to Public Policy.

A Monmouth University poll, also out Tuesday, showed Clinton with a slightly narrower lead — at 69 percent — over Sanders at 21 percent and O’Malley at 1 percent.

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