South Carolina Poll: Trump Leads by 28, DeSantis Fourth

Given the popularity of former President Donald Trump, and with former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., in the field, commanding a key battleground was always going to be difficult for Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The latest Monmouth University poll conducted for The Washington Post has DeSantis in the single digits (9%), and now sitting in fourth place in the GOP presidential primary field.

Trump leads by 28 points with 46% support, while Haley has surged to 18%, and Scott has hit double digits, at 10%.

Despite being a plurality choice and not a majority — as he is in many other polls to date — 54% of all GOP primary voters say Trump is at least probably the best candidate to defeat President Joe Biden, including 35% who say he is definitely the best GOP candidate to defeat Biden.

The full South Carolina GOP primary results:

  1. Trump, 46%
  2. Haley, 18%
  3. Scott, 10%
  4. DeSantis, 9%
  5. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 5%
  6. Former Vice President Mike Pence, 3%
  7. Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, 3%
  8. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, 2%
  9. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, less than 1%

Trump’s strength in the poll goes even further than those numbers, too, due to the certainty and enthusiasm of his supporters, according to Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray.

“Trump’s advantage in the poll results may actually be understated because his backers tend to be more engaged, and thus may have a higher likelihood of turning out, compared with other potential voters,” Murray wrote in his analysis. “For example, 87% of Trump voters claim to be absolutely certain to vote in the February primary, compared with 69% of other candidates’ supporters who say the same.

“Also, 76% of Trump voters are extremely motivated to vote in the primary, which is far greater than supporters of other candidates (46%). Among those who have a strong track record of turning out for GOP primaries, 54% support Trump.

“Trump voters (76%) are also much more likely than those backing another candidate (33%) to say they are definitely supporting their current choice. Nearly all Trump voters (93%) feel their candidate is the strongest Republican to take on President Joe Biden in 2024.

“Interestingly, 1 in 5 (20%) voters who are currently backing other GOP candidates for the nomination actually agree with that assessment.”

Monmouth University polled 705 South Carolina Republican primary voters on Sept. 6-11, including 506 likely voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.6 percentage points for likely voters.

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