A Southern Political Poll released today (full pdf below) conducted for the Augusta Chronicle and Fox5 is exceptionally interesting. The poll data itself is deep, extensive, succinct and well presented. Good sample size, low MOE and few assumptions.
The top line results, show remarkable consistency with the previous NBC/WSJ and Maris polls conducted in January. With the exception of a modest bump for John Kasich, the latest polling shows almost no change – and most of the SC electorate have not only made up their mind, but their decision has been settled for quite a while:
A close review of the poll internals, shows some remarkable and consistent insights when contrast against ground reports, alternate polling and field data. What many political junkies might find remarkable is the dominance of the Trump coalition.
After reviewing the poll data, the current decisions of the Trump campaign’s approach in South Carolina make VERY good sense.
When you review the poll data take note of what the pollster calls Horse Race #1, and Horse Race #2, the first preference and second preference of the SC electorate.
Only Donald Trump extends well beyond 50% when both first and second choices are combined. That’s an important factor.
Additionally, the shallow appeal of the Cruz campaign jumps out when you deduct Donald Trump from the race.
click image to enlarge
Despite Cruz’s near 20% second place status, if you remove Donald Trump, Marco Rubio is the leading candidate in the race. Ted Cruz gains little support from Trump’s massive coalition. This statistical fact affirms all of the previous analytics which warned Cruz’s narrow focus on evangelicals and faith-based voters was self-limiting.
Even more affirmation is noted in Donald Trump actually beating Ted Cruz with staunchly evangelical and moderate evangelical voters. Trump’s support is actually larger than Cruz within the identified target audience of Ted Cruz’s campaign. THAT is a remarkable statistic.
Another rather revealing take-away is the scope of Donald Trump’s lead with both men and Women voters. Trump has double the support of women voters in South Carolina (35%), when compared to second place Cruz (17.2%). Again, this is more affirmation that a highly attune electorate is able to see through the short-sighted Cruz attacks and view Donald Trump as the leading candidate to actually solve problems.
The only two South Carolina demographics where Donald Trump is not dominating the field are young voters (18-29), where Marco Rubio slightly edges him out – and “very liberal” republicans where John Kasich does best. However, even when he loses the sub-category, he is the second place candidate.
When you drill down the data to the section where you can remove Donald Trump, you find most of the Trump voting coalition prefers Rubio as the ‘next best’ option, and do not support Ted Cruz. This is absolute confirmation that Cruz has painted himself into a very narrow corner of the electorate.
The accompanying Fox5 analysis points out some of these aspects but finishes by saying much can change in the next week. However, that concern angle would seem to be unsupported when you consider the actual polled support is almost identical to January, even before the Iowa and New Hampshire results.
When all factors are considered, it certainly appears South Carolinians have made up their mind. Absent of some unforeseen seismic political shift, things look increasingly optimistic for Donald Trump.
Here’s the full poll data: