A new presidential poll out Monday puts former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham out front among South Carolina Republicans.
Bush has a slight lead at 18 percent over Walker and Graham, who are tied with 17 percent.
The poll was released by Clemson University professor Dave Woodard, who declined to identify who commissioned it.
He did say it was neither Graham nor another presidential hopeful.
“Let’s just say it’s a private anonymous party,” he said of the survey of 650 Republican voters who were interviewed Feb. 12-26.
“Jeb Bush is well-known and barely leading, but the most surprising find in the head-to-head contest is that Scott Walker has such a strong showing among voters choosing a presidential nominee,” said Woodard, who has advised Republican candidates in the past.
Walker and Bush are scheduled to be in South Carolina this month ahead of what are likely runs for the nomination.
The results also show that a potential Graham campaign for the White House would not necessarily mean South Carolina Republicans would back him as the “native son.”
“He will have to win by besting the rest of the field, and he doesn’t have much of a home field advantage,” Woodard said. “Only about 31 percent of the respondents said they would consider voting for him because he was from South Carolina.”
The poll has an error margin of plus or minus 5 percent. South Carolina’s presidential primary is expected to be held in February or March 2016.
The other top finishers in the survey were former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, 13 percent; retired Dr. Ben Carson, 5 percent; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 6 percent; and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, 5 percent.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.