Meet the typical South Carolina Republican voter
He or she goes to church at least once a week, feels good about the tea party movement, likes state lawmakers, and finds interracial marriage acceptable, but does not think generations of slavery and discrimination make it harder for blacks to work their way out of the lower class.
Asked how they feel about the following political figures, groups and religions, South Carolina Republicans responded as follows:
Very Positive Somewhat Positive (percent)
Barack Obama 1.7 3.1
John Boehner 5.9 31.5
Tim Scott 44.7 24.3
The National Republican Party 9.9 43.2
The S.C. Republican Party 19.8 46.9
Lindsey Graham 24.5 34.9
Nikki Haley 41.7 41.2
Jim DeMint 37.6 35.0
The Tea Party Movement 23.7 31.9
Christians 71.2 15.1
Muslims 3.3 8.2
Jews 37.9 23.8
Meet the typical South Carolina Republican voter.
That's the picture that emerged from a series of poll questions asked of 901 likely GOP voters this month.
Winthrop University political science Professor Scott Huffmon, who conducted poll, said the results confirm what many experts had known.
"They're very white. They're very religious. They're very, very Protestant, and among Protestants, they're very, very evangelical," he said. "This is confirming what we knew anecdotally."
And their social views are more conservative.
Only 31 percent of Republican voters said having a child out of wedlock is somewhat acceptable, while 49 percent of all South Carolina voters feel that way, according to the Winthrop Poll done in October 2013.
And only 22 percent of Republican voters feel that smoking marijuana is somewhat acceptable, while 42 percent of all state voters feel that way.
The gap between Republican voters and the overall pool of South Carolina voters does narrow on the issue of interracial marriage. About 73 percent of Republican voters find such marriages at least somewhat acceptable, while 83 percent of all South Carolina voters do.
The respondents were an equal mix of men and women; 95 percent were white, 4 percent were nonwhite and 1 percent refused to say. The ages of those polled was somewhat older than the state population on average, but Huffmon said the poll's demographics closely match the demographics of those who have voted in recent GOP primaries. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percent.
Meanwhile, the poll showed a big difference in how South Carolina Republican voters feel about their country and about their state.
Fifty-three percent approve of the way the South Carolina Legislature is doing its job, while 27 percent do not. Only 5 percent like the way Congress is doing its job, while 89 percent disapprove. Almost 93 percent also disapprove of President Barack Obama's job performance.
Along those lines, 95 percent said the country is headed in the wrong direction, while 67 percent said the state is headed in the right direction.
State GOP Chairman Matt Moore said he was not surprised at the low support for Washington and Obama and greater support for state leaders. "Republicans here trust state leaders like Gov. Nikki Haley to lead on jobs, roads and education - the things that matter most in their lives," he said.
State Democratic Chairman Jaime Harrison said the poll results were informative but not surprising. "Some of the sentiments expressed by Republicans in this poll were similar to the sentiments that I read in the comments sections of various news outlets," he said.
While 57 percent of respondents agreed with the tea party movement, only 12 percent considered themselves a member of the tea party.
Huffmon said that 12 percent is not as small a number as it might seem. That equates to almost 59,000 voters - or almost 1,300 per county on average - based on the 2010 GOP primary turnout.
"I doubt even the most robust official tea party organizations regularly boast that many attendees. However, not everyone can attend every meeting," he said, adding that the tea party's organization gives it power.
"If a candidate raises the ire of this passionate 12.4 percent, they will be punished electorally by all those who approve of that 12.4 percent," he said.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.