New FOX 5 Poll: Trump holds wide lead in South Carolina

- A new poll conducted for FOX 5 and other media outlets shows Donald Trump with a big lead among likely Republican voters in South Carolina, and a tight battle for second place.

The Opinion Savvy Poll conducted for FOX 5, the Augusta Chronicle, and the Morris News Service shows Trump leading with 36% of likely voters.

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The millionaire is followed by Senator Ted Cruz at 19%, Senator Marco Rubio at 15%, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush at 11%, Ohio Governor John Kasich at 9%, and surgeon Dr. Ben Carson at 5%.

Five percent of the people surveyed were undecided.

The poll comes prior to the South Carolina Republican Primary on Saturday, February 20, and follows Trump’s big win in New Hampshire Tuesday night.

FOX 5 Political analyst and columnist Matt Towery Sr. said, “The poll conducted by Opinion Savvy (which is owned and managed by Matt Towery, Jr.) is one of the most detailed surveys I have seen conducted in a South Carolina primary.”

Towery said the poll results make it easy to see why Trump has such a strong lead at this point.

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Trump said, “Trump carries every age group except for the youngest (18-29) where Rubio nudges Trump out by 7 points. But Trump has comfortable leads among the other age groups in the poll. Trump has the highest support from almost every segment of respondents grouped by political philosophy. Trump leads among those describing themselves as “very conservative,” “somewhat conservative,” “moderate” and “somewhat liberal.”  John Kasich leads among the few South Carolina GOP voters who describe themselves as “very liberal.””

Towery said, “Nearly 60% of the voters in the GOP primary identify themselves as “evangelical” in the poll. But even among these evangelical voters, Trump leads Cruz by ten points. Of course South Carolina primaries can be very volatile and turnout can greatly impact the final numbers. But it appears Trump has consolidated and expanded upon his lead in South Carolina after New Hampshire in this poll. This is notable given that recent Opinion Savvy surveys of this race in South Carolina have shown Trump in a closer race there than most other surveys.”

But Towery believes the battle for second place is wide open.

Towery said, “Cruz would seem to have the best opportunity to finish second but both Rubio and Bush are in contention as well. The poll does seem to indicate that Rubio’s post-New Hampshire debate “hangover” may be lifting. Just as in Iowa it would be wise to keep an eye out for last minute rise in his support should he turn in a stronger debate performance this coming week.”

But the pollster says some factors could possibly tighten the race.

“We will keep an eye on the well-known negative “push polls,” mailers, and ads for which the South Carolina contest is famous for producing. My guess is that Trump is at his high “water mark” in this survey and that any failure on his part to have a strong ground game or to not respond to the usual tough campaign tactics in South Carolina will result in a tightening of this race”, said Towery.

The Opinion Savvy of likely voters was conducted on February 10-11 by phone and mobile devices.

The poll was weighted by age, race, gender, evangelical vote, and region, and has a margin of error of 3.5% and 95% confidence level.

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