According to a new NBC/Marist poll, Ted Cruz is within striking distance of Donald Trump in South Carolina. Whereas Cruz was trailing Trump by a massive 16% one month ago, he’s now come within 5%:
In the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll of South Carolina conducted after Saturday’s GOP debate, businessman Donald Trump, 28%, edges Texas Senator Ted Cruz, 23%, by only 5 points among likely Republican primary voters statewide including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate or who voted by absentee ballot.
The establishment’s frontrunner, Marco Rubio, is stuck at 15%, the poll shows, and he’s closely followed by Jeb Bush, who is currently supported by 13% of likely Republican primary goers.
Unlike some of the other South Carolina polls released in recent days, this poll was conducted completely after last Saturday’s debate in which Trump went full Iraq War Truther. As a result, the billionaire businessmen has lost support across the board, especially among those who earn less than $50,000 a year. In other words: blue collar voters.
Trump is now also trailing Cruz among South Carolina voters who describe themselves as “very conservative”: 22% versus 42%. And his double-digit lead among Tea Party conservatives one month ago has been transformed into a small but important 4% deficit: 31% versus 35%. Amazingly, Trump — who says he has never asked God for forgiveness despite trying to abuse eminent domain to take an old lady’s home and cheating on his first wife Ivana Trump — is still very competitive with Cruz among evangelical voters, 29% versus 26%. Other than that, the poll shows that momentum is now against Trump and for Cruz.
If this poll is to believed, South Carolina’s race may be too close to call. Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, explains:
Will South Carolina return to its traditional place in picking the Republican nominee? With the race tightening, it looks like South Carolina may not be any better than Iowa and New Hampshire in clarifying the race.
Although that may be true, the fact of the matter is that no Republican candidate who won two of the first three primary states has ever gone on to lose the nomination. So yes, South Carolina matters nonetheless.