DATE: January 16, 2008
Joseph Stewart, (864) 656-3234
J. David Woodard, (864) 656-3551
Bruce Ransom, (864) 656-0214 or 1650
Teresa C. Hopkins, (864) 656-1222
EXPERT: Joseph Stewart
EXPERT: David Woodard
EXPERT: Bruce Ransom
Poll gives McCain lead over GOP pack in South Carolina
CLEMSON – With only three days remaining before the South Carolina presidential primary on Saturday, Jan. 19, the Clemson University Palmetto Poll finds John McCain in the lead, with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in second and two more contenders fighting it out for third place in the Palmetto State.
The poll also reveals many voters might still change their minds.
Despite the vote being at the end of the week and the importance of South Carolina in the national pattern of GOP contests, only slightly more than half of the voters had a good idea about whom they would support on election day. Nearly 40 percent of the voters were undecided. (Get the summary report.)
“Based on these figures, we expect that as many as one-quarter of the voters might decide in the last 24 hours before the Saturday election,” said Clemson political scientist and pollster David Woodard.
McCain has emerged from the pack of GOP candidates in South Carolina since August, when former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson held the lead. McCain leads second place Huckabee by seven points.
“The rise of Huckabee from single digits to contention for winning the primary is unusual, but the poll shows that McCain has a solid lead among likely voters,” Woodard said. “McCain has remained a familiar face to the electorate in South Carolina dating back to his second place finish in 2000. Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney are locked in a statistical dead heat for third place.”
The final question in the poll asked voters about how certain they were that their choice of a candidate was conclusive. Fifty-three percent of likely GOP voters on Saturday say they are “very sure” they will stick with their choice. Forty-six percent said they may change their minds.
“We find a very liquid environment in the state and the race is still subject to change,” Woodard said.
The poll was conducted Jan. 9-15. Respondents were chosen for the sample if they voted in at least one of the past four Republican primaries. The margin of error for the figures is plus or minus 4.6 percent for the sample size of 450 prospective voters. All people in the survey said they will vote on Saturday.