South Carolina

Poll: Half of S.C. primary voters undecided about presidential picks

Half of South Carolina's Democratic and Republican voters say they are paying attention to the 2016 presidential campaign but have not settled on a candidate, a new poll shows.

Nearly 60 percent of Republicans and 48 percent of Democrats said they have not decided who they will vote for in the state’s February primaries, according to the Clemson University Palmetto Poll released Tuesday.

Just 39 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of Democrats said they have a good idea who they will support.

“We have an electorate interested in the 2016 presidential primary in South Carolina but still undecided as to who will receive their allegiance,” Clemson pollster Dave Woodard said. “Half the voters admit they are undecided, and those who have chosen a candidate freely admit they might change their minds before the February vote.”

The poll reinforces the idea that it is too soon to tell who will win each party’s nomination despite the S.C. front-runners holding onto their leads.

Billionaire Donald Trump continues to top GOP presidential hopefuls with 23 percent support. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson trails closely behind at 19 percent. Trump has led Carson by 13-18 percentage points in polls since early September.

In the Democratic contest, front-runner Hillary Clinton has a strong lead with 43 percent support. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley trail the former secretary of state at 6 percent and 1 percent support among S.C. Democratic voters, respectively.

Sanders’ showing in the Clemson poll is far lower than a CBS/YouGov poll released Sunday, showing the self-described democratic socialist picking up 25 percent support in the Palmetto State.

The poll surveyed 600 S.C. primary voters of each party who said they plan to vote in the GOP’s Feb. 20 nominating contest or the Feb. 27 Democratic primary.

Interviews were conducted from Oct. 13-23. The poll’s results have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Clemson Palmetto Poll

S.C. Democratic presidential primary

Hillary Clinton: 43 percent

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders: 6 percent

Martin O’Malley: 1 percent

Undecided, don’t know or did not answer: 50 percent

S.C. Republican presidential primary

Donald Trump: 23 percent

Ben Carson: 19 percent

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio: 9 percent

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz: 8 percent

Jeb Bush: 7 percent

Carly Fiorina: 6 percent

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham: 3 percent

Mike Huckabee and John Kasich: 2 percent each

Chris Christie, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: 1 percent each

Undecided, don’t know or did not answer: 15 percent

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