Donald Trump is the clear front-runner heading into Saturday’s South Carolina Republican primary.
A new Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday found Trump leading in the crucial third-nominating state by a large margin.
According to the poll, 35% of likely Republican voters supported Trump. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tied for second with 18%.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) trailed in fourth with 10%, while former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson both captured 7% of the support.
Trump blasted out the poll results almost immediately in a Tuesday tweet.
“New PPP Poll just out – Trump up big, Cruz, Rubio and Bush down. The debate results, even with a stacked RNC audience, were wonderful!” Trump tweeted, referencing the rowdy audience that frequently booed Trump during last Saturday’s Republican debate.
The survey found that like in New Hampshire, Trump’s support in South Carolina appears firm among wide swaths of Republican primary voters.
“Donald Trump doesn’t seem to have lost any support in South Carolina following Saturday night’s debate,” Dean Debnam, PPP’s president, said in a statement. “He has a pretty consistent across-the-board lead with the different segments of the Republican electorate.”
Though Trump has led in the state for months, recent polls have shown a slight realignment of the race. Rubio’s lower-than-expectations fifth-place finish in New Hampshire hasn’t appeared to deflate his popularity in South Carolina. Several recent polls have found him locked in a dead heat with Cruz for second place.
Kasich has also appeared to receive a bump following his second-place finish in New Hampshire. Several polls conducted earlier this month have discovered him emerging from single-digit support in the Palmetto State.
Rubio and Kasich’s rises could be bad news for the Bush campaign, which has played-up the former governor’s advantages in the state.
Jeb Bush has Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-South Carolina) endorsement, and he was joined on the campaign trail Monday by former President George W. Bush, who has appeared in multiple ads in the state touting his brother’s commitment to national security and veteran’s issues.
David Kochel, the Bush campaign’s senior strategist, told Business Insider last week that he believed the former governor would perform well with the state’s military and veteran population, which makes up a sizeable chunk of the Republican primary electorate.
“South Carolina is going to be important because it’s going to be the commander-in-chief primary there,” Kochel told Business Insider. “You’ve got 25% of the state [that] is military or veteran. We have the support of Lindsey Graham and we have a strong organisation. I think this race is going to narrow.”
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