A poll by a conservative energy group suggests U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham could win the June 10 Republican primary without a runoff against any of his six challengers.
The survey, conducted by TargetPoint for the right-leaning Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, gave Graham a 56 percent following. His nearest challenger, Upstate businessman Richard Cash, was far behind at just 7 percent.
The rest of the field included state Sen. Lee Bright, 6 percent; Charleston businesswoman Nancy Mace, 5 percent; Columbia pastor Det Bowers, 4 percent; and Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor and Columbia attorney Benjamin Dunn at 1 percent each. About 14 percent of those surveyed said they were undecided.
The results were first reported Tuesday by the website Politico.
Efforts to reach representatives of the energy group, which is based in Washington, D.C., were unsuccessful Tuesday. Phone messages and emails were not returned. On its web page the group bills itself as advocating free-market solutions to secure the nation's energy future, while advocating wind, solar and nuclear.
"Acting as responsible stewards of God's creation ensures a legacy of a clean and safe environment for future generations," the group said is one of its principals.
The organization's website includes several South Carolinians featured prominently for their energy-supportive positions, including former Upstate congressman Bob Inglis of the Energy and Enterprise Institute; Roberta Combs, head of the Christian Coalition's national office; and Michele Combs -Roberta Combs' daughter - who is listed as a member of Young Conservatives for Energy Reform.
Last week, Roberta Combs was named a member of the Graham campaign's self-created "South Carolina Values Coalition," representing Berkeley County.
Cash, the second place candidate in the poll, expressed doubts about the reliability of the results.
"Graham's polling position, which we have reason to doubt is below 50 percent, is due in part to no challenger having released an ad exposing Graham's liberal record. That will change tomorrow when we start our new TV ad," the Cash campaign said Tuesday.
Graham needs to get more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.
The survey also suggests a very low voter turnout for the June 10 primary, with just 19 percent of those surveyed correctly naming the date of the June 10 primary, and 58 percent not even hazarding a guess, according to Politico.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551