As the presidential primaries turn away from the months long feverish obsession with the smaller and more homogenous early states of New Hampshire and Iowa and towards the larger and more diverse Southern states, much attention has been focused on Democrat Hillary Clinton's command with African-Americans but perhaps more remarkable is just how extreme Republican Donald Trump's supporters are in states like South Carolina.
A new Public Policy Polling poll out on Tuesday illustrates that the Republican frontrunner is nearly as dominant in South Carolina as he was in New Hampshire, a state he won with more than twice the support of his nearest competitor.
"What's striking about Trump's support is how consistent it is across different demographic groups," Public Policy's Tom Jensen said in a statement, announcing Trump's 35 percent lead in South Carolina. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are tied for second with 18 percent support each.
Public Policy interviewed 897 likely GOP primary voters in South Carolina on Sunday and Monday after Saturday night's contentious GOP debate and found The Donald leading among almost every group in the state:
he's at 41% with 'somewhat conservative' voters, 40% with younger voters, 38% with men, 36% with self identified Republicans, 35% with Evangelicals, 35% with middle aged voters, 34% with non-Evangelicals, 31% with women, 30% with self identified independents, 30% with 'very conservative' voters, 30% with seniors, and 29% with moderates. He has a lead of some size within every single one of those groups, similar to what he was able to do in New Hampshire.
Trump is even leading among voters who hold a positive view of former President George W Bush. Did I mention this poll was conducted after Trump assailed Bush's brother Jeb! on a South Carolina debate stage Saturday night with charges that W failed to keep us safe on 9/11?
“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.”
What's important is not that Trump is leading in South Carolina. Public Policy's is the third such poll out this week showing a huge Trump lead. What's important is that the "first in the South" South Carolina primary sets the stage for the March 1 primaries in predominately Southern states, otherwise known as the SEC primaries. Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma all have higher proportions of evangelicals, a group that supports both Trump and rival Ted Cruz, than New Hampshire and even Iowa. While Trump is expected to handily win the election this Saturday with the support of a cross-range of South Carolina voters, not just evangelicals, just what those Trump supporters believe will shape his campaign trail rhetoric for the next couple of weeks and Trump's South Carolina voters believe some of the most extreme, right-wing nonsense:
76 percent of Trump supporters in South Carolina either wish the South had won the Civil War or aren't sure. Only 24 percent are glad the North won.
70 percent of Trump supporters in South Carolina think the Confederate flag should still be flying over the State Capital.
62 percent of Trump supporters in South Carolina want an unconstitutional database of Muslims already in the nation.
40 percent of Trump voters in South Carolina support shutting down all Mosques in the U.S. and 80 percent support a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.
32 percent of Trump voters in South Carolina think Japanese internment during World War II was good.
31 percent support a ban on homosexuals entering the country.
By comparison, only 68 percent of Trump's supporters in New Hampshire supported banning all Muslims from entering the United States. Things should only get uglier in the South.