Former President Donald Trump is positioning himself as a dominant force in the 2024 South Carolina Republican primary, according to a new Fox Business poll. The poll, conducted by Beacon Research and Shaw & Company Research from July 15-19, 2023, reveals that Trump enjoys a significant lead with 48% of likely Republican primary voters backing him. Among those certain to vote, his support rises to 51%, putting him far ahead of his rivals.
The poll’s findings show Trump’s influence is overwhelming, as he maintains a 34-point lead in the Palmetto State. More than half of those surveyed believe he is the most viable candidate to defeat President Biden in the upcoming election.
As the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the race, Trump’s initial challenge is to ward off competitors seeking to become the non-Trump candidate. As of now, that contest is primarily a three-way race among Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott. However, all of them are significantly lagging behind Trump’s staggering lead.
Trump’s strongest support comes from those identifying as very conservative, voters under 45, those without a college degree, rural voters, and White evangelicals. These demographics solidify his appeal and make him a formidable contender.
While DeSantis, Haley, and Scott may each find pockets of support, their strongest backing aligns differently. Like Trump, DeSantis finds his primary support from those who are very conservative, while Haley and Scott’s strength lies with moderates.
The importance of a candidate’s ability to defeat Biden and align with voters’ views weighs heavily on the minds of GOP primary voters. Seventy-two percent consider defeating Biden extremely important, while 62% prioritize sharing views with their chosen candidate. Remarkably, Trump leads by over 40 points in both categories, underscoring his broad appeal.
Beyond electability and shared views, South Carolina GOP primary voters believe Trump possesses the greatest potential to take on Biden in the November election, with 51% expressing confidence in his ability. DeSantis ranks second with only 17% support, leaving other candidates in single digits.
The poll also reveals strong sentiments toward certain candidates. Approximately 6 in 10 respondents state they would “definitely” support Trump, while the same sentiment is shared by 3 in 10 for Haley, Scott, and DeSantis. On the other hand, former Vice President Mike Pence faces the highest share of respondents stating they would “never” vote for him.
As the first 2024 Republican presidential primary debate approaches, the question of attendance looms. While the debate will be hosted by Fox News on August 23 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Trump remains undecided about participating. According to the poll, GOP primary voters view a candidate choosing to skip the debate as a sign of weakness (57%) rather than strength (29%). Haley and DeSantis supporters, in particular, feel it indicates weakness.
In summary, the Fox Business poll illustrates the substantial lead Donald Trump holds in the 2024 South Carolina Republican primary. As the front-runner, he has managed to garner broad support from various voter demographics, positioning himself as the candidate with the best chance to challenge President Biden. The road to the nomination may be long, but for now, Trump remains firmly in the lead in the crucial state of South Carolina.
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