December 14th, 2007
07:49 AM ET
14 years ago

S.C. poll: Huckabee bolts to top of GOP; Obama cuts into Clinton lead

Huckabee leads in a new poll out of South Carolina.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee surged to the top among Republican presidential candidates in South Carolina, while Sen. Hillary Clinton's lead over Sen. Barack Obama among Democrats narrowed since July in that state, according to a new poll.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll of South Carolinians was released Friday Huckabee was the choice of 24 percent of South Carolina Republicans in the survey conducted by telephone between Dec. 9 and 12. When the same poll was conducted in July, Huckabee was in the lower tier with just 3 percent of support from registered GOP voters.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson was second with 17 percent, slightly down from his previous 18 percent.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who led in July with 30 percent, dropped to a tie for third with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, both at 16 percent. Romney's showing was a major improvement of his 6 percent standing in the previous survey.

The poll showed Sen. John McCain falling from 21 percent in July - the second highest - to a fifth place 13 percent now. Rep. Ron Paul's 11 percent for seventh was a major boost from the two percent registered by the July survey.

The sampling error for the poll of Republican primary voters is 4 percent.

The survey suggested that one of Huckabee's main strengths was his personality.

In particular, he tops the list when likely GOP voters are asked to name the candidate who is most believable.

The poll of Democratic primary voters showed Clinton leading with 42 percent, Obama second at 34 percent and former Sen. John Edwards third with 16 percent.

The remaining Democrats were at 3 percent or less.

The poll's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 for Democratic primary voters.

Obama, who moved up 7 points since the July poll, was helped by increased support among black voters.

While in July, 33 percent of African-American Democrats said they would vote for Obama, he now has 45 percent of their support compared to Clinton's 46 percent.

Among Democrats, 41 percent said they've definitely made up their minds about who they'll vote for in the primary, while 22 percent told pollsters early primary results could help them decide.

The remaining 36 percent said they don't know who they'll vote for, but those earlier primaries will not affect them.

Republican voters appeared less decisive about their choices, with just 25 percent saying their minds were made up, and 22 percent saying early primary results could help them decide.

The other 52 percent said while they're undecided, the earlier primaries will not affect their vote.

The poll also looked ahead to a possible general election with Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee and Mike Huckabee or Rudy Giuliani leading the GOP ticket.

The survey of South Carolina registered voters, which has a sampling error of 3 percent, showed Clinton with 48 percent versus Giuliani at 47 percent.

Huckabee edges Clinton 48-47 percent in the head-to-head poll.

Jimmy Carter, in 1976, was the last Democratic presidential candidate to win South Carolina's electoral votes.

The survey's question about what issues were most important to voters in determining their choice for president showed significant differences in the priorities between Republicans and Democrats.

Democrats placed Iraq and health at the top of their list with 31 and 30 percent respectively.

The economy was third at 24 percent, followed by immigration at 7 percent, terrorism at 3 percent and abortion at 3 percent.

The economy was the most important issue for 24 percent of the Republicans, while immigration was next at 23 percent, followed by Iraq at 16 percent, terrorism at 13 percent, abortion at 11 percent and health care at 10 percent.

Filed under: Poll • South Carolina
soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. William Karam, New York city, NY

    Oprah has crossed the line.

    December 14, 2007 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  2. Jessica M., El Paso, TX

    This is kind of a misleading headline. If anything, its good news for Clinton, it shows that she is increasing her lead from previous recent polls. Oh-oh, I think there IS an Oprah backlash. Oops. I find it funny how after everything, the Oprah side circus, spending more money than any other candidate, all the positive biased media, and having better organization on the ground and early campaigning, Saint Obama still can't take a real lead in Iowa either. If this didn't help. I don't know what will.

    And lets not talk about Edwards, he's been campaigning for the presidency since 2004 (he hasn't even had a "real" job, except this).

    December 14, 2007 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  3. tere, fl

    why did you not do a general election poll with obama as the democratic nominee you biased ****

    December 14, 2007 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  4. Adam, Augusta GA

    Why is Huckabee surging in the polls? I mean what does anyone know about him except that he is republican and a baptist preacher? Is he getting support based on his religion?

    December 14, 2007 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  5. Allen Ridge

    Olde Slick Huck is a product of America's liberal MSM wolfpack press. They know olde liberal Huck is the weaker of all the leading candidates running for president. Hopefully GOP voters will not be fooled by the "propping" up of Huck by our liberal press

    December 14, 2007 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  6. brian, rockwall, texas

    i hope huckabee's popularity isn't mostly due to the "christian" thing. our country is paying, and will be paying for generations to come, for the last elected favorite of the christian coalition who also claimed to be a "compassionate conservative" and a "uniter, not a divider". please thing beyond that and realize the most important things right now include things the present administration has no interest in...things like global warming, diplomacy, world standing, human rights, reducing deficits, and an honest administration. i don't know what is going to be included in this presidents library, everything's been deleted, or destroyed.

    December 14, 2007 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  7. mapper john

    If this poll strength continues, the GOP is in much more trouble than I ever thought.

    December 14, 2007 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  8. Karen, NYC

    besides the personal issues Gov. Mike Huckabee is having he would be a breath of fresh air on the Republican side.

    December 14, 2007 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  9. Justin, Gaithersburg MD

    The article never mentions women's rights... and yet the tag under Huckabee's headshot says "Huckabee's record on women's rights is under scrutiny."

    Very classy CNN.

    December 14, 2007 08:02 am at 8:02 am |

    2 soon 2 look 4 winners.

    December 14, 2007 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  11. Lee, Mays Landing New Jersey

    That's good. Huckabee is the most authentic of the bunch (too many fakers, phonies and flip-floppers) and his outlook and beliefs are right where most southern republicans are.

    Rather than nominating a chameleon like Romney or a lizard of a different color like Giuliani, this is a more honest republican choice. For example Pat Robertson's choice of Giuliani was dishonest and purely political, while the average republican voter is choosing someone more like himself or herself.

    It will make for a clearer and better choice in the general election, especially when on the democratic side they choose someone other than Hillary, another politician too chameleon like.

    Agree or disagree with Huckabee, he gives us a clear choice.

    December 14, 2007 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  12. Don, Ft. Worth, Tx.

    Gov. Huckabee is not electable. The Republican party has much going against its candidates this next year. The Governor can not overcome them as he lacks broad appeal. This is not a comment about him or what he stands for good or bad, just an observation.

    December 14, 2007 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  13. TC Orlando, FL

    Here we go again, the last thing we need right now is another right-wing religious fundamentalist nutjob as our preacher-in-chief. He belongs in a little church house in the middle of Arkansas, not in the White House.

    December 14, 2007 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  14. anon, new york, NY

    While Hillary might have dropped her lead since CNN's July poll, she has increased her lead over Obama since Opprah's stump for him a week or so ago. That could the backlash from Oprah's stump.

    In addtion, while Obama might have about equal votes with Hillary from the blacks in south carolina, he lost out to Hillary 3 to 1 in getting the white votes in south carolina.

    December 14, 2007 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  15. Alex, Philadelphia, PA

    How come on TV they don't mention Ron Paul jumping to 11% at all? I'm just wondering why the limited exposure?

    December 14, 2007 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  16. I. Dern (Fairfax, Va)

    It's good to see that voters aren't responding to the media's sudden and intense smear campaign against Huckabee.

    The intensity of the spotlight and the nitpicking is incredible. Good to see that the US is not as easily manipulated as the media would hope.

    December 14, 2007 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  17. Alex, Miami, FL

    I would like to know if people paid 35$ to vote in the Iowa polls how come they are not allowed to see them or for a registered count. While I am glad Mr. Huckabee came in first which I suspected , it came as a surprise to me that no one reports that the funny thing about the Republican results is that Ron Paul is at 11% here but the Survey USA poll that was released just a few days ago excluded him as a choice in South Carolina just the same way Dennis Kucinich was excluded in Iowa. Meanwhile Iowa voters are not allowed to manually look at the results despite paying $35 dollars to vote. Something smells fishy and it's not the fish.

    December 14, 2007 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  18. Liam Thomson, Milford, NH

    U R Right, Keith. It is 2 soon, and yet, not 2 soon to know who not to vote for, like any Democrat who lives in a fantasy world and makes empty, unrealistic, and dangerous promises. Time will tell. I just want that DEM Congress gone, they are so inept it is mind blowing.

    December 14, 2007 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  19. Common Sense

    It would be a great race in 2008 if Obama and Huckabee are able to keep the other challengers at bay. It would be a great story of how two unassuming candidates surged to the top when they weren't expected to be the nominees. I've written more about it last month:

    December 14, 2007 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  20. Common Sense

    Keith, you are correct. However, one of the joys for political junkies is watching how races shape up. You never know what will happen tomorrow.

    December 14, 2007 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  21. Diamond. Bradenton, FL

    Obama moved up 7 points.

    How many points did Clinton drop? ashamed to say, hmh?

    When you exploit people's kindergarten and teenage years for political gain, you pay a heavy price.

    December 14, 2007 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  22. TB, FL

    Agreed Keith...way too soon!

    December 14, 2007 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  23. Kissimmee Florida

    Iam glad that Hillary is loosing ground iam a republican undidecided yet my vote is between Arkansas former governor and Guiliani i am from ths estate of Florida.

    December 14, 2007 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  24. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    Tis a sad day indeed. The two must laughable excuses for leaders–are near the top of the pick!! Just shows how the press, polls, institutions–again are pushing us to selection of a candidate. On the right–the Christian Right–is co-opting the media, polls to put in one of their own. On the left–the elitists,–and Ivy League graduates in power–are pushing for another Harvard grad–to add to their wall of fame.
    Take a second look at these two buffoons. Don't let the traditionalists elect another "business as usual" specimen. During the next Presidency, lets make sure we see some action coming from Washington–not just more broken promises and perpetuation of the same old stuff under new management–and called a different name.

    December 14, 2007 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  25. Anon

    I don't know what people see in him. But good luck Huck. I'd rather see him win the GOP nomination than any other neo con.

    December 14, 2007 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
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