With just over two moths to go before the all-important South Carolina Republican presidential primary, a poll of likely GOP voters in the state continues to show a strong leaning toward real estate mogul Donald Trump, who has controversially proposed banning all Muslims attempting to enter the United States.
Of the 828 Republican voters who answered the most recent Winthrop Poll, 24 percent said Trump would be their choice. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz came in second at 16 percent. (Seventeen percent were undecided.)
Trump has drawn widespread criticism in recent days over comments he made suggesting that the United States should impose a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” Trump made those remarks in the days following a terror attack in San Bernardo, Calif., that left 14 dead and 21 injured. The attack was carried out by a husband and wife who, according to federal investigators, may have been radicalized by Muslim extremists.
The Winthrop poll shows that GOP voters in South Carolina are more likely to fear terrorism and more likely to favor creating a national database to track Muslims in the United States. They also report to harbor deep anger at the federal government.
The poll was concluded on Dec. 7, the same day Trump made his controversial remarks.
The South Carolina primary is considered key in the Republican nomination process because it is the nation’s first Southern primary, and the first where presidential candidates will be vetted by a variety of conservative voters.
Other key findings:
• The threat of terrorism stands out as the most important issue for likely Republican voters, with a third of respondents naming it as their tip concern.
• The economy and immigration (not refugees) came in second and third, at 13 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
• Sixty-one percent of poll respondents said they are frustrated with the federal government, while 35 percent said they are angry, and only 3 percent were basically content.
• Eighty-one percent of respondent said they approve of the job being done by S.C. Governor Nikki Haley, who led efforts to take down the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds.
• When asked if Christians in America experience discrimination, 46 percent of poll respondents said they see a great deal of discrimination. Only 17 percent said little or no and 38 percent said some discrimination.
• Ninety-three percent said they disapprove of President Barack Obama’s leadership.
The poll has a margin of error of approximately +/- 3.4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.