Hillary Clinton holds a commanding lead over Bernie Sanders in the South Carolina primary. This marks the first Monmouth University Poll of voters in the Democratic contest in this state. Clinton is seen as the stronger candidate on issues of concern to African-Americans in a primary where the majority of voters will be black.
Clinton holds a 69% to 21% lead over Bernie Sanders among likely voters in South Carolina’s Democratic primary. Martin O’Malley’s support stands at 1%, with 8% not having a preference at this time. Sanders does best among voters who identify themselves as independents, but he still trails Clinton by 53% to 35% with this group. Clinton holds a large 74% to 16% lead among self-described Democrats likely to vote in South Carolina’s open primary.
Clinton is seen as the candidate who can better address the concerns of African-Americans. Three-in-four say she would do an excellent (31%) or good (43%) job at this compared to just over half – 16% excellent and 36% good – who say the same of Sanders. Interestingly, black voters (75%) and white voters (72%) are equally as likely to trust Clinton to handle issues of concern to the black community. However, black voters (40%) are less likely than white voters (66%) to feel the same about Sanders.
“Sanders has been trying to make inroads with core Democratic constituencies, including black voters. South Carolina will be the first test of his appeal with that bloc. He is not faring well,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch.
The Monmouth University Poll also asked voters what type of job the two candidates would do regarding issues of concern to women. Clinton (47% excellent and 36% good) leads Sanders (17% excellent and 36% good) on this score. There are no significant differences by gender in these results.
Looking at the candidates’ fundamental strengths, likely South Carolina primary voters have overwhelmingly positive views of Clinton (81% favorable – 7% unfavorable) and largely positive views of Sanders (58% favorable – 13% unfavorable). O’Malley holds a split 18% favorable and 18% unfavorable rating, with two-thirds of Palmetto State primary voters having no opinion of him.
Overall, one-third (34%) of voters say they are completely decided on their choice – including 43% of Clinton supporters and just 18% of Sanders backers. Another 33% say they have a strong preference but are willing to consider another candidate, 11% register only a slight preference, and 22% say they are really undecided even if they name a preference at this time. At the same time, most Clinton (56%) and Sanders (66%) backers say they would not be unhappy if another candidate actually won the Democratic nomination.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from November 5 to 8, 2015 with 400 South Carolina voters likely to vote in the Democratic presidential primary. This sample has a margin of error of +4.9 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch