Poll: Lindsey Graham trouncing crowded primary field

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) leads primary poll. (Chip Somodevilla - GETTY IMAGES)

Sen. Lindsey Graham holds a wide lead over a crowded field of challengers in South Carolina's June Republican primary, according to the first independent poll in the contest

A new Winthrop poll finds Graham garnering 45 percent support among likely voters in the open GOP primary, followed by Lee Bright at 9 percent, Nancy Mace and Bill Conner at about 4 percent and Richard Cash at 3 percent. Graham's sub-50 performance wouldn't be enough on Election Day to avoid a runoff with his top challenger, but he could easily clear that bar by garnering a fraction of the more than one in three voters who are currently undecided (35 percent).

Tea party supporters account for 57 percent of likely primary voters and are a weak spot for Graham, who wins only 34 percent of this group. Bright performs slightly better among tea party backers than voters overall (14 percent vs. 9 percent), but no candidate has galvanized the movement's support (moreso than Graham). 

One key strength for Graham is his general popularity with Republican likely voters. Asked their general feeling toward the senator, positive ratings of Graham outnumber negative ones by more than 2 to 1 (59 percent positive, 26 percent negative, the rest neutral or unsure). The poll did not include recent entrant Det Bowers, who joined  the race earlier this month. Winthrop said it did not ask about Bowers because he had not raised money by the time the questionnaire was prepared.

The Winthrop poll was conducted February 16-23 among 901 registered voters screened as likely to vote in the Republican primary. The sample contacted respondents using a combination of voter list-matched phone numbers and random digit dialing of cellular and landline phones. Full methodology is available here.

Peyton M. Craighill contributed to this report.

Scott Clement is a survey research analyst for The Washington Post. Scott specializes in public opinion about politics, election campaigns and public policy.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read Politics



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Next Story
Aaron Blake · February 26, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.