The latest Winthrop poll has Donald Trump holding on to his lead in South Carolina, with 24 percent of likely Republican voters saying they’ll vote for him. Ted Cruz is second at 16 percent, while Ben Carson is third with 14. Marcio Rubio is at 11 percent and Jeb Bush is polling at 9. All the other candidates are at 2 percent or less.
University of South Carolina Dean of the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies Charles Bierbauer, a former CNN correspondent, says, “Polls are always snapshots, or a series of snapshots over a few days time. It tells you what people are thinking today. It doesn’t tell you what they’re going to be thinking tomorrow, and we don’t know what events will ensue between today and when we actually go vote, and those things will have an effect on the polling that matters, at the polls.”
He says the polls can have a big impact, though, if someone who supports a candidate polling at 2 percent or less decides to vote for one of the leading candidates instead, in order not to “waste” his vote on someone with no chance of winning.
Polling expert Dr. Bob Oldendick, director of the Institute for Public Service and Policy Research at USC, says even this polling was done before Trump made his remarks about banning all Muslims from entering the country, he doesn’t think those remarks will hurt his poll numbers.
“Building the wall and his immigration, and now with the Muslims, the whole series of statements, everybody said, ‘Well, you know, a candidate shouldn’t say that. This one’s going to have a negative impact.’ And it hasn’t seemed to make any difference. In fact, if anything, when there’s this ‘outrageous statement’ that he seems to make, he only gets stronger in the polls,” Oldendick says.