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Former U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford. File/Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

Mark Sanford hasn't decided whether he will mount a 2020 presidential run against Donald Trump, but a new poll shows he'll find little to no support at home from South Carolina Republicans.

Just 2 percent of GOP voters in the Palmetto State say they would vote for Sanford if he were on the Republican presidential primary ticket.

That's according to the latest Post and Courier-Change Research Poll.

A vast majority of state Republican voters — 95 percent — say they would cast their ballot for President Trump.

The one-sided findings suggest Sanford would struggle mightily to overcome Trump's popularity, even in a battleground where he holds fairly high name identification as its former governor and past congressman from Mount Pleasant.

"It's certainly a strong indicator that this is, in fact, Trump's party right now," said Gibbs Knotts, a College of Charleston political science professor.

The Post and Courier-Change Research poll surveyed 568 likely Republican voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent. The poll was in the field from Aug. 9-12.

In addition to confirming solid GOP support for Trump in South Carolina, the latest online survey also found 66 percent of those likely Republican voters said Sanford would not make a good president.

Just 5 percent of respondents said Sanford would make a good president and 29 percent said they were unsure.

Name identification is something of a double-edged sword for Sanford. 

While governor, Sanford was considered a conservative favorite for the presidency based on his rising profile as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. He became a household name when he rejected President Barack Obama’s stimulus funding in 2009.

But Sanford is best known for his most infamous moment: A 2009 extramarital affair, in which he told an aide he was “hiking the Appalachian Trail” when he was, in fact, with his Argentine mistress.

S.C. GOP Chairman Drew McKissick sought to remind voters of that past last month when he weighed in on Sanford's possible 2020 bid.

The findings come the same week Sanford made a two-day swing through New Hampshire, a key early presidential primary state, where he sought the advice of Granite State Republicans to give him honest feedback on the best political path forward. He also did a few media interviews.

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Sanford reportedly met with former New Hampshire state attorney general Tom Rath, a top adviser to then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 2016 presidential campaign, and former state GOP chair Fergus Cullen, who was one of the leaders of the "Never-Trump" movement in New Hampshire.

"There is going to be an alternative on the ballot," Cullen told Boston Herald Radio on Thursday after mentioning he had met with Sanford about his possible 2020 presidential bid.

If Sanford does launch a 2020 run, he can get on the Granite State’s GOP presidential ballot for a $1,000 filing fee.

Whether South Carolina will even hold a Republican presidential primary is still up for debate. The state GOP Executive Committee will take up the matter Sept. 7. The latest poll suggests there is an appetite for it — even if Trump was the only name on the ballot.

A reported 62 percent of S.C. GOP voters said the state's Republican presidential primary is an important tradition that should be held even if Trump is the only candidate on the ballot.

That's compared to 24 percent who say the presidential primary is not needed and would just be an opportunity for Trump's opponents to try hurt him.

Since 1980, every victor in the state's Republican presidential primary has gone on to be the party's eventual nominee, with the exception of Newt Gingrich in 2012.

Sanford said he will decide his next steps by Labor Day.

Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Political Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.

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