The really shocking part of PPP’s poll of South Carolina

A face in the crowd: Who knew, when she appeared here in May 2015, she'd be so close here now?

A face in the crowd: Who knew, when she appeared here in May 2015, she’d be so close here now?

Yes, it’s startling to see Public Policy Polling — an outfit that Nate Silver says skews slightly toward Republicans — showing South Carolina as in play in the presidential election. (See “Clinton/Trump Race Tight in South Carolina,” Aug. 10.)

Seeing Hillary Clinton only 2 percent behind Donald Trump — just within the 2.7 percent margin of error, making this a dead heat — is something most of us doubted we would see again in our lifetimes. (Jimmy Carter was the last Democrat to win here, in 1976.)

But what’s truly shocking, to me, is how much support Trump does have:

The closeness is a function of Democrats being a lot happier with their party’s candidate than Republicans are with theirs. Clinton is winning 84% of the Democratic vote, compared to Trump’s 77% of the Republican vote. Although neither candidate is well liked by voters in the state Trump’s favorability, at 38% positive and 56% negative, comes in slightly worse than Clinton’s at 38/55…

That’s right, 77 percent — an overwhelming supermajority — of Republicans are willing to vote for Trump. Only 4 percent of them — less than the percentage ready to throw away their vote on Gary Johnson — is willing to back Hillary.

Perhaps that doesn’t surprise you. If it doesn’t, I think that’s because you’re making the mistake of thinking of this as a normal election, just another standard-issue contest of Democrats vs. Republicans, in which Republicans should be expected to back their nominee as a matter of course.

To that I say, stop trying to normalize this election! There is nothing normal about it! There hasn’t been since a year ago, when Trump started outpolling actual, normal Republicans!

If an actual, sane Republican were the nominee — Bush, or Kasich, or maybe Christie before he sold out and backed Trump — then fine. I wouldn’t like that mindless, reflexive vote for the party any more than I usually do (regardless of the party), but at least it would be something we’ve come to expect as normal.

This is not. This is inexcusable, unthinkable. It is an abomination.

But you know what is worse? That Trump has a bigger lead over Hillary among those who are “independent or identifying with another party” than he does among the overall electorate!

I’m sure that doesn’t include any of you loyal UnPartisans, but still. It’s shocking…


26 thoughts on “The really shocking part of PPP’s poll of South Carolina

  1. Karen Pearson

    They started vilifying her when Pres. Clinton first took office. How dare she (an unelected woman!) presume to come up with a universal health plan–a single payer plan! The socialist feminazi! I have done a bunch of research, and I can find some stuff, but nothing illegal, or even unethical. I’ve seen a lot of accusations, such as the Clinton foundation/nuclear material deal, but when I check them they turn out to be no more than accusations without any solid foundation. However (thanks Fox), they’ve been widely disseminated and often believed.

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    That photo at the top of this post is the ONLY exposure that was even halfway usable from that Clinton event in Columbia on May 27, 2015.

    Of course, my reason for attending the event was the one that motivates me to attend MOST events — to get some pictures for blog use. But the folks in charge of the event were determined not to let me anywhere near her, so it was virtually impossible to get anything decent with my iPhone — which usually suffices, for most events. That is to say, the ones at which the media aren’t rigidly controlled….

    So basically, you’re seeing the same image that, in cropped form, appears from time to time as the header image on the blog. When it did so one day recently, I suddenly realized: Is that Huma Abedin over on the left?

    Huma Abedin, of course, is the woman who is famous (in part) for not only being married to Anthony Weiner, but staying married to him. Which makes Hillary sticking with Bill seem less remarkable.

    She’s also, of course, someone who Donald Trump would have barred from entering the country, since she is a Muslim…

    1. Doug Ross

      Have you seen Anthony Weiner on Bill Maher’s program? Ugh. What a despicable craven person. How he dares to show his face in public is incredible…. but then I guess he’s seen that it didn’t impact Bill Clinton, so why not?

      1. Pat

        I always wonder how they get accurate polls these days. We dropped our landline to rid ourselves of these and other calls. It reminds me of when early polls were done by telephone, that newfangled invention, and it skewed toward the republican candidate.

      2. Kathryn Fenner

        Five Thirty Eight ran a piece on why pollsters truly do not want to skew/bias their results: they want to be right–that’s how they make bank. They may end up biased or skewed, but that’s a bug, not a feature. Think about it: if your weather forecaster were not reasonably accurate, you’d seek another one. You don’t have to be a weatherman to see which way the wind blows this election. You do want to be the pollster who nails the spread, though.

        1. Pat

          Except Rassmussen was a tool for the Republican Party…their bank was the Republicans. They made it look like their candidate was more popular than in reality. I guess some voters are attracted to the popular. But Rassmussen doesn’t do polling so much anymore it seems.

  3. Doug Ross

    The polls don’t have any way to judge the willingness of people to actually make the effort to vote. I think Hillary’s supporters in SC don’t have the same level of passion they had for Obama. Answering a poll is easy. It will be very interesting to see the turnout for black voters in SC this time around.

  4. Bryan Caskey

    The flanks of the Trump army are being encircled. I think a Falaise Gap is a best case scenario for him at this point.

    Cannae is looking more and more likely. If SC goes blue, it’s officially Cannae.

  5. Michael Bramson

    I wonder if there will be any down-ticket effect. Does Arik Bjorn have at least a glimmer of hope against Joe Wilson if Hillary Clinton is competitive in the state?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I doubt it.

      Things might have changed since I last checked, but I’m pretty sure that the 2nd Congressional District is significantly more Republican than the state as a whole…

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        I imagine it was designed that way, but my parents in south Aiken are in Wilson’s district, and Aiken has had a lot of folks move in from elsewhere, though most are retirees or engineers, neither of which skew Democratic

  6. David Carlton

    Brad, you’re showing your political naivete again. First of all, Trump is the Republican nominee because Republican voters put him there; he won far more votes than any of the others. Regardless of your pretensions to decide who Real Republicans are and are not, *actual* Republicans chose him for their standard-bearer. To be sure, the Republican elite looks on him with contempt, even if they support him (Mark Sanford’s op-ed in today’s NYT is quite amusing in this regard–you hand over the warmaking power to a guy like Trump just because you think he’ll nominate the “right” judges?). But there’s long been a divide between the elites (especially the policy elites, who are flooding into the Hillary camp; they don’t have to worry about the next election) and the voters who gave them power. What those voters have finally noticed is that the elites have never used that power for their benefit. Trump won’t either–his “policies” are mush–but he tells them what they want to hear: that they are being victimized by a vast cabal of Others, from sinister Chinese to fanatical Muslims to corrupted blacks to swarming Latinos–all out to get what has rightly belonged to deserving white people. Yeah, they’re racist–but as I keep telling lefties who think redneck stereotypes explain it all, they also have legitimate concerns about the impact of deindustrialization, etc. on their lives–concerns that neither party has properly addressed.

    The other thing–You’re surprised at the extent of independent support for Trump? Why? As political scientists keep saying until they’re blue in the face, few “independents” really are; in the end they vote just like avowed partisans. Insofar as they’re different, it’s not because they’re more “centrist”; quite the opposite. Republican-voting independents don’t like to identify as Republican because they don’t think the party is right-wing *enough*; the party is *too* moderate, *too* prone to icky stuff like cutting deals. But looking at the actual independent numbers, I see the major differences as (1) 11 percent support for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian (which I bet comes mainly from young white males without other political attachments but besotted by Ayn Rand), and (2) 22 percent undecided (you’d expect people who aren’t partisans to be less decided, right?).

    One final note: Public Policy Polling is a good shop, but they definitely identify themselves as a Democratic shop. They’re most famous, after all, for peppering their surveys with whimsical questions designed to embarrass Republicans.

    1. Doug Ross

      Any Rand has nothing to do with Johnson’s support. It’s a stereotype as weak as claiming Trump is a racist. Are you suggesting that a significant percentage of the 11% even knows who Ayn Rand is? Young white males? Seriously?

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Thanks for correcting me on PPP. I was trying to remember which way the “street” accuses them of being biased, and the first thing I came up with was that FiveThirtyEight rating showing them skewing slightly Republican.

      If the preponderance of evidence goes the other way, I apologize for getting it wrong. (And now that I search another way, I see this WashPost reference to PPP being “Democratic-leaning.”)

      But that mistake aside, I don’t think naivete is the right word for me. I know the things you point out (PPP aside); I just disagree in the way I interpret them…

    3. bud

      This is an interesting discussion about PPP. David, you and Brad are actually both right. PPP gets a B+ from Nate Silver as a pretty accurate pollster. Though it is true they self identify as a Democratic organization they actually have a Republican bias. Go figure. In the Fivethirtyeight polling adjustments the SC poll Brad is discussing is adjusted up from Trump +2 to even. Nate Silver obviously thinks their methodology favors the GOP.

  7. Michael Bramson

    I guess you’re right. In both 2008 and 2012, Obama lost the 2nd Congressional District by about 20 points, but he only lost by about 10 statewide. I haven’t been paying attention to other races in the state, though, other than that strange ad for Fran Person that you posted here on the blog. Just looking at these numbers, maybe the 5th and 7th districts will be at least marginally competitive.


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