Poll: South Carolina voters want Graham to drop presidential bid

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., holds up his cellphone after the moderator mentioned the event at which Donald Trump gave out Graham’s cellphone number. Despite the publicity he received from the feud, Graham has struggled to gain traction in the polls.

A cellphone-smashing feud with Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump and three months crisscrossing the nation on the campaign trail have not been kind to South Carolina’s native son.

When U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham announced his bid for the White House, he and his supporters assumed he could count on a good showing in his home state’s “First in the South” Republican primary.

But it’s not looking good. A poll by Public Policy Poling released Wednesday revealed 78 percent of likely primary voters said Graham should drop out of the race, while 15 percent said he should continue his bid.

That’s likely because Graham has so far done so poorly in polls that his showing has fed a “what’s the point” view among South Carolina’s Republicans, said Scott Buchanan a political science professor at The Citadel.

“I think Republicans are more concerned about getting this field dwindled down to more manageable numbers,” Buchanan added. “It’s implausible, at best, that Graham picks up much more steam at this point.”

Graham’s campaign could not be reached for comment. Low poll numbers are also keeping Graham out of the second prime-time Republican presidential debate Wednesday being moderated by CNN. He’ll participate in the first-round at 6 p.m.

The poll also revealed that his approval ratings have dropped drastically.

Only 36 percent of likely primary voters said they approved of the job he’s doing as senator, down from 54 percent in February. And 51 percent said they disapproved of the job he’s doing as senator, up from 29 percent.

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But Buchanan said that’s normal with Graham. His approval numbers have historically taken dips and dives, but improve around year four and five of his term, when he becomes more conservative, Buchanan added.

“I think Lindsey Graham, when it comes to being elected to the Senate, he’s got nine lives,” Buchanan said. “Historically, in other states you see the same things going on. You’ve got a political candidate that everyone loves to hate.”

Reach Cynthia Roldan at 577-7111.