Monday, October 24, 2005

Sure sign of End Times.....S.C. turns on Bush

S.C. poll shows change in views on abortion, significant drop in Bush’s job performance rating



Staff Writer

• President Bush’s job performance rating has taken a nose dive in South Carolina.

• Gov. Mark Sanford remains extremely popular among rank-and-file Republicans, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into votes for him.

• S.C. Republicans are not as strongly anti-abortion as they once were.

• U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona dominates the field among GOP presidential hopefuls in the state.

• Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has emerged as the most popular political leader in South Carolina.

These are highlights of a recent statewide poll taken by Richard Quinn and Associates, a Columbia-based Republican consulting firm. The survey of 879 active Republican primary voters was conducted Oct. 10-1l. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

While Bush’s job approval ratings are still stronger in South Carolina than elsewhere, the poll indicates his support has suffered here, as well. The job disapproval rating for the president has grown to 26 percent from 10 percent among Republicans over the past six months.

“That’s a dramatic increase,” Quinn said.

(A recent poll taken by Survey USA of all S.C. voters — not just Republican loyalists — had Bush’s disapproval rating at 58 percent.)

However, one of the most interesting findings of the Quinn poll had to do with the issue of abortion.

The survey asked respondents if they were “pro-life” or “pro-choice.” Fifty-three percent of the GOP voters identified themselves as pro-lifers. However, almost 40 percent called themselves pro-choice Republicans.

That’s a dramatic shift in sentiment from earlier polls that showed pro-lifers dominating Republican primaries from Charleston to Greenville.

Quinn’s latest survey showed the bulk of the pro-choice Republicans live in the Midlands and Low- country, where the state has experienced a large influx of retirees from the North — many of whom tend to be economic conservatives but progressive on racial and cultural issues.

The majority of pro-lifers, the poll shows, live in the Upstate, a region dominated by conservative Christians. It’s also the home of fundamentalist Bob Jones University.

Other matters of interest:

• Sanford’s re-election support isn’t as great as it ought to be for an incumbent of his standing. Nevertheless, it’s still solid.

Forty-nine percent of Republican voters indicated they would vote for Sanford regardless of who runs against him. Thirty-five percent weren’t so sure, indicating they were reserving their options.

• McCain is by far the most popular GOP presidential hopeful among S.C. Republicans. Sixty-five percent look favorably upon the Arizona senator. No one else comes close.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, U.S. Sen. George Allen of Virginia, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani trailed far behind.

• Graham apparently has survived his controversial decision to support the Senate compromise on judicial filibusters. For weeks, conservative Republicans attacked him, saying he had caved in to liberal senators who sought to stymie Bush’s judicial nominees by talking them to death.

The compromise worked, however, and nine conservative judges were confirmed. Graham, who had to endure bitter attacks from his own party, said he did what he thought was right. Sixty-seven percent of South Carolina GOP voters agree with his decision.

Graham’s overall approval rating stands at 77 percent, and 55 percent said they would vote to re-elect Graham regardless of who runs against him in 2008.

• The lieutenant governor’s race between Republicans Mike Campbell and incumbent Andre Bauer is dead even. Campbell gets 28 percent of the vote to Bauer’s 27 percent.

Lee Bandy’s “On Politics” column normally runs in Impact each Sunday.

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