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ECU Poll of South Carolina: Graham with a Narrow Lead Over Harrison Among Likely Voters; Trump Ahead of Biden as Election Day Nears

A new ECU Poll of South Carolina, conducted October 24-25, shows Senator Lindsey Graham ahead of challenger Jaime Harrison among likely voters, 49% to 46%, with 5% undecided. President Donald Trump leads former Vice President Joe Biden in South Carolina, 51% to 44%, with 4% undecided and 1% supporting some other candidate.

Divisions by education level factor into both races. Graham holds a ten-point advantage over Harrison among those without a four-year college degree (52% to 42%), while Harrison leads Graham by five points (50% to 45%) among those with a four-year college degree. In the presidential election, Trump holds a commanding lead among those without a four-year college degree, 59% to 38%. Among college-educated voters, however, Biden tops Trump, 50% to 43%.

Among African American voters, Harrison has overwhelming support. According to the poll results, African American respondents favor Harrison over Graham by a margin of 95% to 3%. Trump also trails by a significant margin among African American voters (with 87% for Biden compared to 10% for Trump). Trump’s 10% support among African American voters, however, is significantly higher than Graham’s total and is an improvement from the 4% of the black vote that Trump won in 2016 according to exit poll results. Both Republican candidates hold sizable leads among white voters, with Graham ahead 61% to 34% over Harrison and Trump ahead 63% to 33% over Biden.        

According to Dr. Peter Francia, Director of the ECU Center for Survey Research, the poll results suggest that both the U.S. Senate contest and presidential election will be more competitive in South Carolina than in the past. “Four years ago, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 14 percentage points in South Carolina, 55% to 41%. While Trump remains the clear favorite to win South Carolina again, Joe Biden appears likely to outperform Clinton’s vote total in 2016,” said Francia. He added, “Senator Graham won re-election rather easily in 2014. This election is quite different. The Graham-Harrison race is extremely competitive. The campaign that better mobilizes its supporters, particularly in these final remaining days of the election, could well determine the winner.”     

Methodology

This poll was conducted October 24-25, 2020. The sample consisted of 763 likely voters in South Carolina, with a Credibility Interval (CI), similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/- 4.1 percentage points. It is important to remember that subsets based on education and race have higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. The data were weighted by age, education, race, gender, mode, and 2016 election modeling. Data were collected using both an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines only (n=502) and an online panel provided by Lucid (n=261).

Key Takeaways
  • South Carolina Senate Election: Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Jaime Harrison are locked in a close election. The ECU Poll shows Graham ahead 49% to 46%, with 5% undecided.
  • Presidential election in South Carolina: President Donald Trump leads former Vice President Joe Biden, 51% to 44%, with 4% undecided and 1% supporting some other candidate.
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Quotes
Four years ago, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 14 percentage points in South Carolina, 55% to 41%. While Trump remains the clear favorite...
Peter FranciaDirector, ECU Center for Survey Research
Senator Graham won re-election rather easily in 2014. This election is quite different. The Graham-Harrison race is extremely competitive. The camp...
Peter FranciaDirector, ECU Center for Survey Research
Related Bios
Peter Francia, Ph.D.
Director of the Center for Survey Research
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Jonathan Morris, Ph.D.
Senior Polling Scientist
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Contacts
Peter Francia
franciap@ecu.edu
252-328-6126
Jonathan Morris
morrisj@ecu.edu
252-328-1067