© 2023 South Carolina Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WRJA-FM, 88.1 Sumter, will periodically experience temporary outages December 1-8 due to extensive work to our broadcast tower. We apologize for the inconvenience. Streaming on this site, smart speakers, and through the SCETV App will be unaffected.

Poll: Nikki Haley passes Ron DeSantis among South Carolina voters for the 2024 GOP nomination

Republican presidential hopeful and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks at a campaign event on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, in Clive, Iowa. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)
Meg Kinnard/AP
Republican presidential hopeful and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks at a campaign event on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, in Clive, Iowa. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

The latest Winthrop Poll, released Wednesday, shows former South Carolina Gov. and former U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley gaining ground on GOP presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump among the state’s voters – and surpassing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

While Trump still holds sway with half the state’s Republican voters heading into 2024, Haley now claims support from 17% of those same voters. While still well behind, Haley’s rise is notable in that she’s gaining traction among GOP-leaning independents, according to Winthrop Poll Founder Scott Huffmon.

“We continue to see Trump’s dominance for the nomination in South Carolina,” Huffmon said. “Haley’s rise coincides with the continued slide of Ron DeSantis with his drop in national polls being mirrored in South Carolina.”

Meanwhile, South Carolina’s other Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, has neither gained nor lost any significant ground among GOP voters in the state. According to the poll, Scott’s numbers remain in the single digits; he is virtually tied with businessman Vivek Ramaswamy.

“Both Haley and Scott do a bit better when Republican-leaning Independents are included in the analysis,” Huffmon said.” For both Haley and Scott, an appeal to conservative Independents may offer a path to higher support.”

Scott, however, is viewed far more favorably as a senator than his Capitol Hill counterpart Lindsay Graham. According to the poll, fewer than half of Republican voters approve of Graham, while 72% of those same voters approve of Scott.

State voters continue to be sharply split along party lines when it comes to how they view the job that Republican Gov. Henry McMaster is doing. According to the poll, 73% of Republicans approve of McMaster, while 75% of Democrats do not.

Support for President Joe Biden remains lower among state voters than among the country overall. Nationally, Biden has a 40% approval rating; in South Carolina, it’s 30%.

Beyond elected officials, the poll finds a mixed response to the question of whether to continue supporting Ukraine.

“The South Carolina parties offer a near mirror image of each other on the issue of Ukraine,” Huffmon said. “While a plurality of Republicans want to end the conflict as quickly as possible, even if that means Ukraine loses territory, nearly the same number of Democrats want to continue supporting Ukraine in its attempt to reclaim lost land.”

But Huffmon said that a plurality does not mean the parties are taking strong sides.

There was no broad consensus from either party on Ukraine,” he said.

According to the poll, 41% of respondents overall support Ukraine in reclaiming territory Russia has captured even if it results in a more prolonged conflict; 34% want the U.S. to try to end the conflict as quickly as possible, even if it means allowing Russia to keep territory it has captured from Ukraine. One in five said they don’t know where they stand on the matter.

The poll also found that South Carolinians remain deeply divided over what to do about Confederate monuments.

“The issues of confederate monuments and the confederate battle flag still elicit conflict in South Carolina,” Huffmon said. “Despite many who would like to see these issues fade, there remains a clear racial split on these issues.”

A third of South Carolina voters prefer either leaving monuments as they are or leaving them but adding a plaque or marker for historical interpretation, according to the poll.

But broken down by race, the numbers diverge quickly. Forty percent of white respondents said to leave monuments as they are compared to 17% of Black respondents. Black respondents more often prefer these monuments and memorials be moved to a museum.

Scott Morgan is the Upstate multimedia reporter for South Carolina Public Radio, based in Rock Hill. He cut his teeth as a newspaper reporter and editor in New Jersey before finding a home in public radio in Texas. Scott joined South Carolina Public Radio in March of 2019. His work has appeared in numerous national and regional publications as well as on NPR and MSNBC. He's won numerous state, regional, and national awards for his work including a national Edward R. Murrow.