New South Carolina Poll From CNN: The Race For 2-3-4

United States presidential election, 2016

CNN/ORC has the latest South Carolina poll out. It’s good news for Donald Trump and (relatively) bad news for Marco Rubio. On the Democratic side, the poll shows slight tightening but Hillary Clinton still with a commanding lead over Bernie Sanders due entirely to her wide advantage with from black voters.


Republicans: Trump 38, Cruz 22, Rubio 14, Jeb 10, Carson 6, Kasich 4

404 likely Republican voters, MOE +/- 5 points. So, not really a very high-confidence poll, but a poll nonetheless to consider in combination with the others. Conducted February 10-15, so after New Hampshire but both before and after Saturday’s debate.

RCP average: Trump 36.6, Cruz 18.4, Rubio 15.6, Bush 9.4, Kasich 9.0, Carson 5.4
HuffPost Pollster average: Trump 37.6, Cruz 21.3, Rubio 15.3, Bush 9.2, Kasich 6.8, Carson 5.0

Several recent polls – a number of them from fairly questionable pollsters, albeit pollsters with very different tilts – have showed good news for Marco Rubio, with Rubio pulling away from Jeb Bush and closing on Ted Cruz or catching him. CNN/ORC doesn’t see that – it’s got Rubio closer to Jeb than Cruz. Fourth place in South Carolina may still be fatal to Jeb (who has yet to finish in the top 3 in any of the first two states and is hemorrhaging money), but a 14-10 Rubio win over Jeb would not really be good news for Rubio and might not be quite enough to finish off Jeb.

Trump at 38 is a little on the high side but consistent with his 35-40% showing in several recent polls. If the polls are off, they’re off in unison. Trump underperformed in Iowa but not New Hampshire; we’ll really get a look Saturday on which is more predictive of his ground game going forward (Iowa, of course, was a closed caucus, while South Carolina is an open primary, more like New Hampshire).


CNN/ORC hasn’t polled SC since October, so movement from the last poll is pretty dramatic, showing Cruz, Rubio and Jeb all way up (especially Cruz) and Carson way down.

John Kasich continues to be on the ballot.

Only half of the voters surveyed (49%) say their minds are made up, up from 19% in October, but 31% were still trying to decide.

Alarmingly, majorities of the voters thought Trump would do the best job with the economy (58%), changing Washington (60% to 16% for Cruz), odds of winning in November (53% to 19% for Cruz, 16% for Rubio) and less surprisingly immigration (53%), but things get much tighter on foreign policy (Trump 29, Cruz 22, Jeb 18, Rubio 17), social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage (Cruz 28, Trump 21, Rubio 15, Carson 13, Jeb 10), and “shares my values” (Trump 27, Cruz 26, Rubio 14, Jeb 13, Carson 10). If the campaigns are seeing splits like this in their internals, expect Cruz, Rubio and Jeb to keep hammering the latter issues. That said, given that polling and traditional political analysis suggests that Rubio would be vastly more likely to win in November than Trump, he really needs to start pushing back at Trump’s (factually laughable) insistence that he leads Hillary in all the polls.

Splits, with the caveat that the small sample size made a lot of splits unavailable:

-Jeb actually has the biggest gender gap; he runs at 13% with men, just 7% with women. The two candidates who pick up Jeb’s voters with women seem to be Carson and…Jim Gilmore, who polls at 3% with the ladies but 0 with the men.


-Trump and Jeb run a bit better with older voters (Trump at 41% with over-65, 40% with over-50, Jeb 14% with over-65, 12% with over-50). No other age splits available.

-Rubio, predictably, does better with voters making over $50,000 (19%), suburban voters (16%), and Republicans (17%), Cruz with college-educated voters (24%) and conservatives (26%).

-60% of white male voters have decided already vs 21% undecided, compared to 39% of white women vs 38% undecided. Female voters are a much bigger target for the late pitch.

Democrats: Hillary 56, Bernie 38

280 likely Democratic voters, MOE +/- 6, so potentially less reliable than the GOP poll.

RCP average: Hillary 58.8, Bernie 36.0
HuffPost Pollster average: Hillary 58.7, Bernie 36.8

Even more of the Democrats’ voters are up for grabs; 43% say they are decided, 40% still trying to decide. Hillary has big leads on every issue (especially race relations, 62-32) except guns (48-42 over Bernie, suggestion that running to his left on guns may not be working that well in SC). SC voters by 67-29 see Hillary as more electable.


The gaps are huge on the Democratic side. Hillary leads women 60-33 and non-white (mostly black) voters 63-29, but trails among white voters 54-40 (it says something about the Democratic electorate that “men” were too small a group to derive a sample size big enough to provide a breakdown). So even moving South, Bernie Sanders looks almost as dominant with white Democrats as he was in New Hampshire and (probably) Iowa, but black voters aren’t buying yet. But they don’t love Hillary either – by 57% to 30%, white voters are definitely decided rather than undecided, but non-white voters are still waiting, 35% decided and 46% undecided.


Hillary’s “most likely to win in November” lead stretches to 69-28 with women and 73-23 with non-white voters; that suggests that a big obstacle for Bernie is voters who are less idealistic and more concerned with keeping the status quo.

Hillary leads 61-34 with Democrats, so Sanders is obviously cleaning up with independents. On guns, Hillary leads 55-35 with non-white voters, Bernie 58-35 with white voters; white Democrats are obviously much more pro-gun in SC than their black neighbors.

Compare and Contrast

Top issues for Republican voters: economy 39%, terrorism 20%, foreign policy 11%, illegal immigration 10%, social issues 9%, health care 7%.

Top issues for Democratic voters: economy 48%, health care 24%, terrorism 8%, social issues 8%, foreign policy 6%, illegal immigration 2%.


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