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South Carolina Poll: Biden Leads Presidential Primary Among Likely Democratic Voters, But Many Open to Changing Their Mind Before Election Day. Trump and Graham Lead Comfortably in General Election Matchups

Former Vice President Joe Biden leads all candidates in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary, with support from 37% of likely voters, followed by Tom Steyer (19%), Bernie Sanders (14%), Elizabeth Warren (8%), Pete Buttigieg (4%), Andrew Yang (3%), Amy Klobuchar (2%), Tulsi Gabbard (2%), and Michael Bloomberg (1%).

Approximately 45% of likely voters are open to changing their mind about which candidate they will ultimately vote for in the Democratic presidential primary election.

Among likely voters who are supporting Joe Biden, 61% answered that their mind is made up, compared to 58% for those supporting Tom Steyer, 54% for those supporting Bernie Sanders, 50% for those supporting Elizabeth Warren, and 42% for those supporting Pete Buttigieg.

Among African Americans who are likely to vote in the Democratic primary, Joe Biden leads Tom Steyer, 44% to 25%. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren trail with 10% and 9% respectively, with all other candidates at 2% or less.

 A majority of seniors (those 65 years of age and older), who are likely to vote in the Democratic primary, support Joe Biden (54%). Bernie Sanders (28%) and Tom Steyer (28%) lead among younger voters (those less than 35 years of age).  

Among registered voters in South Carolina, President Donald Trump holds a comfortable lead in head-to-head matchups against all major Democratic presidential contenders. When asked whom they would vote for if the general election were held today:

President Trump leads Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders by an identical margin of 52% to 40%. 

Trump’s advantage grows larger when matched up against other potential candidates. Trump leads Tom Steyer (52% to 39%), Elizabeth Warren (54% to 36%), Pete Buttigieg (52% to 34%), Andrew Yang (52% to 34%), Amy Klobuchar (52% to 32%), and Michael Bloomberg (53% to 33%).

Among registered voters in South Carolina, incumbent Senator Lindsey Graham leads his potential Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison, 51% to 38%.

Methodology

This poll was conducted January 31-February 2, 2020. The sample consisted of 1,756 registered voters in South Carolina, with a Credibility Interval (CI) similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/- 2.7 percentage points. The subsample of likely Democratic voters had a CI of +/- 5.3 (n=469). The data were weighted by age, education, race, gender, party affiliation, and 2016 election modeling. The results based on race and age carry with them a higher margin of error due to the smaller sample size. Data were collected using both an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines only (n=1,165) and an online panel provided by Lucid (n=591).

About the Authors

Peter L. Francia, Ph.D., is Director of the ECU Center for Survey Research and is professor of political science at East Carolina University.

Jonathan S. Morris, Ph.D., is Senior Polling Scientist of the ECU Center for Survey Research and is professor of political science at East Carolina University.

Key Takeaways
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden leads all candidates in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary.
  • Among African Americans who are likely to vote in the Democratic primary, Joe Biden leads Tom Steyer, 44% to 25%. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren trail with 10% and 9% respectively.
  • President Donald Trump holds a comfortable lead in head-to-head matchups against all major Democratic presidential contenders.
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Peter Francia
Director of the Center for Survey Research
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Jonathan Morris
Senior Polling Scientist of the ECU Center for Survey Research
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Contacts
Peter L. Francia, Ph.D.
252-328-6126
Media
Jonathan Morris
morrisj@ecu.edu
252-367-1067
Media