FT Politics

Poll: Trump Leads S.C., and His Supporters Aren’t Going Anywhere

Survey Asked Who Voters Would Most Want to Be Stuck on an Elevator With
By Eva Moore
Monday, February 15, 2016 |
Photo by Thomas Hammond

Donald J. Trump continues to lead the Republican primary field in South Carolina. He’s also the candidate the highest number of voters would want to be stuck in an elevator with.

Ben Carson, meanwhile, is widely considered a good person to loan your car to, even among supporters of other candidates.

An automated telephone poll of 416 voters conducted exclusively for Free Times by Crantford Research attempts to tease out some key electoral forces as the state heads into its Feb. 20 GOP primary. It was the first poll conducted since the Feb. 13 GOP debate in Greenville.

Asked who they plan to vote for, 32 percent of respondents in our poll chose Trump. Ted Cruz was at 16 percent, Marco Rubio at 13 percent, Jeb Bush at 12 percent, John Kasich at 9 percent, and Ben Carson at 4 percent. Fourteen percent were undecided.

Our results confirm other polls that show Trump with a double-digit lead.

Crantford Research conducted the Free Times South Carolina GOP Presidential Preference Survey on Feb. 14, 2016. The survey was conducted by telephone using an automatic dialing and phone pad response data collection method. The margin of error for the results of the survey is +/- 4.8 percent.

The poll was also weighted according to congressional district: Crantford analyzed 2012’s GOP primary data to calculate what percentage of the vote came from each of seven congressional districts, then polled the state accordingly.

Things got more interesting when we asked four questions aimed at calculating the strength and nature of voters’ support.

The data suggest Trump and Carson have the deepest, most durable support, while other candidates’ support may be more fluid. Trump, however, has broad support, while Carson’s is at this point quite narrow.

Asked who they’d most want to be stuck in an elevator with, a solid 86 percent of Carson’s supporters said they’d want him as their elevator buddy, and 71 percent of Trump’s supporters chose Trump. Other candidates’ supporters didn’t necessarily want to be stuck in an elevator with them: Just 45 percent of Kasich’s supporters and 49 percent of Bush’s supporters would most want to be in an elevator with their candidate.

So while George W. Bush was famously the candidate voters wanted to have a beer with, his brother doesn’t inspire the same kind of affection.

As this seems to be the year of the outsider, we asked about political experience. Just 21 percent of Trump’s supporters and 5 percent of Carson’s said political experience was “very important.” In fact, 61 percent of Trump’s supporters called political experience “somewhat unimportant.” Conversely, 61 percent of Bush’s supporters and 61 percent of Kasich’s say political experience is “very important.”

In a test of trustworthiness, we asked which candidate respondents would be most likely to loan their car to for a weekend. A staggering 95 percent of Carson’s supporters said he’s the one to whom they’d loan their car, suggesting his aura of trustworthiness is a key part of his appeal. And 69 percent of Trump supporters and 64 percent of Bush supporters would toss the keys to their own candidate. Among Cruz supporters, 58 would loan him their car. Kasich’s and Rubio’s supporters clock in at the bottom, with just 47 percent of Kasich voters and 51 percent of Rubio voters saying they’d most want to loan their candidate their car.

So who would those voters loan their car to, if not their own candidate? Mostly Dr. Ben Carson. He was the most widely picked choice for those who didn’t choose their own candidate.

Finally, we asked how important a candidate’s religious faith is in a voter’s decision to back them. Fifty-one percent of those polled said it was “very important” and another 27 “somewhat important.” Although Trump doesn’t talk about religion much — and it’s not clear how religious he is — 47 percent of his supporters rated religion “very important” and another 30 percent “somewhat important.” Meanwhile, Kasich’s supporters were the least concerned about religion, with only 32 percent calling it “very important.”

The low support for Kasich throughout the results suggests that the Ohio governor, who focused his campaigning elsewhere, is unknown to many South Carolina voters.

And the faithfulness of Trump’s voters across the board suggests they’re not likely to shift their support away from him to another candidate.

You can see the questions and surveys responses here.

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