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. J Willaimson Buffalo, NY

    This underscores the fact that the Republican party has been hi-jacked by religious fanatics and right-wing loonies. Say what you will about Richard Nixon, but he was the smartest Republican politician of the 20th century (three times a presidential nominee) and never would have allowed these demogogues within a country-mile of his organization.

    December 14, 2007 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  2. Emil,Silver Spring, MD

    I wished this to happen after I listened carefully to his stament and answers to questions on CNN/debate.
    I also felt his concern about the future of all Americans bleu/red base on his 'faith shown' (personality) in God.

    now the result is, He is said to have taken the lead in key state.

    Gov. Huckabee cheer, keep it on.

    December 14, 2007 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  3. Mark, Minneapolis MN

    I'm curious to know where climate change or the environment ranked among Dems and Republicans polled. Was it offered as a choice by persons conducting the poll?

    December 14, 2007 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  4. Hiding in the hills

    Just keep attacking Huckabee – he is enjoying the attention and his numbers keep going up.

    December 14, 2007 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  5. Karen

    Huckster in the white house...all of my worst nightmares all rolled into one.

    December 14, 2007 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  6. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It will be a while before we can really call a winner of Iowa. How about we wait until the caucus is over to call a winner. I would prefer that all of these primaries and caucuses started after April.

    December 14, 2007 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  7. Walt, Englewood, FL

    Ron Paul in 6th place not seventh and only 5 points behind Romney and Giuliani and 6 points out of second place. Not bad for a candidate ignored by the media.

    December 14, 2007 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  8. Martin, Clarksville, TN

    Wow, more bad news for Hillary! It looks like people are beginning to wake up and realize that she is not the leader our country needs. I just hope her poll numbers continue their steady drop as more Americans realize just how bad she would be for our country.

    Anybody but Hillary in 2008

    December 14, 2007 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  9. Chuck, Miami, FL

    This shows you how pathetic Mitt Romney's campaign has been. He has spent millions and was leading IOWA, NH, and SC for months. Now his lead has evaporated. Go Mike Huckabee.

    December 14, 2007 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  10. Chris, Middletown, CT

    I am a Republican....and the sad thing is...I will vote for Obama over anyone running (except Giuliani) – the country needs a moderate....not a right or left wing....they cannot win...if the Dems run HRC – then the Republicans will win – we nobody believes Saul Alinskys socialist beliefs have any place here

    December 14, 2007 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  11. Bryan, Folsom, CA

    The media made Huckabee. He's their little pet. They'll break him when the time comes. He's cute, but little more. He may please the Republicans with his country wit and charm (and I'm sure he's a nice guy). But he can't defeat the Democratic candidates. That's quite plain. Wake up.

    Thankfully, we've yet to hear the fat lady sing.

    December 14, 2007 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  12. Randy S. Lawton, OK

    Posted By anon, new york, NY : December 14, 2007 8:36 am

    One question: Do you lay awake at night making this crap up?

    Pulling facts out of your orifices doesn't make them true.

    I just love the way all the wannabe pundits on these threads spew forth facts as they want them to be. And all the prognosticators that can see the future and tell us who is pre-ordained to win primaries or even the general election.
    The fact is, and most people realize this, is that polls, especially leading up to the primaries, are about as reliable as a screen door on a submarine.
    But, keep on trucking, folks, don't let facts get in your way.

    December 14, 2007 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  13. David Columbus, OH

    Huckabee leading? Who wants to vote for this guy? What a joke. When will people start doing their own investigating instead of listening to CNN?! WHEN!?!?

    December 14, 2007 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  14. Ben Campbell, Hillsville, Virginia

    What a line of bull, CNN! There is no way under the stars that Hillary Clinton has a chance of winning South Carolina if pitted against a Republican candidate in the general election. Not even if the Republicans nominated Dick Cheney! This head-to-head "poll" of yours is just further proof that your network is doing everthing within its power to secure the nomination for her for the sake of having a great "story" to report on. Americans may be growing dumber, but they're not so far gone as to believe such manipulated data. Take a drive through South Carolina, stop and speak with its people. Let's see then if you still believe Hillary stands a chance of winning the state's electoral votes.

    And by the way...I'm a Democrat. A realistic Democrat!

    December 14, 2007 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  15. Nat, Brooklyn, NY

    Just hope that Mike Bloomberg will enter the run for the White House, otherwise, we are in a big trouble.

    December 14, 2007 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  16. Jacob, Newton IA

    Why do people like this guy? We need a guy who can fix problems, not be a smoooooth talker. Talking doesn't solve anything. The man has spent his adult life doing exactly that – talking. Romney does, Huckabee talks about doing. Look at results, not words.

    December 14, 2007 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  17. New Yorker

    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.
    Posted By TC Orlando, FL : December 14, 2007 8:24 am

    I'd much rather see him in the White House than a left-wing, anti-Christian, advocate of women's rights ABOVE babies rights, cut and run, misguided democrat/socialist. I guess alot of other people would too, hence his soaring to the top! I love you and the democrats but not your/ their agenda.

    December 14, 2007 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  18. Walt, Belton, TX

    Sorry Mike, one loser from Hope, Arkansas is more than enough.

    Neither advocate a strong national defense and neither served their country in uniform, and we saw how Clinton decimated the military.

    Two capitulators from Hope would be idiocy!

    December 14, 2007 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  19. Mike, Des Moines, IA

    Afther Ron Paul Win my State and NH we be a easy surf and take them all.

    December 14, 2007 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  20. Jon Moulee, Black Oak, Arkansas

    How much of Huckabee's support is attributed to rapists hoping for a presidential pardon?

    December 14, 2007 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  21. That's Reality

    To Brian, Rockwell, Texas –

    I'm glad Bush doesn't make his decisions based on how it will effect our "world standing". The world, as represented by the United Nations, is not going in the right direction. If it was the U.N. would have done something, long ago, about the genocide in Darfur, the human rights abuses in Viet Nam, China, N. Korea, to name a very few, and would do something about nations who violate nuclear arms agreements, rather than leaving such things up to anyone who dares stand up to the monstrous deception that is going on and YOU have fallen for. Check out what's really going on in the world and you'll understand the battle that Bush was courageous enough to become involved in. People who hate Bush haven't received all the facts but, evidently, only what certain media has to offer, or just can't discern what's really going on here. When you mention human rights, please don't forget the unborn babies; they really are human, also.

    December 14, 2007 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  22. Ron, Kensington, MD

    Does anyone seem to forget the fact that Huckabee does NOT have ANY foreign relations and policy experience? Didn't anyone see Huck's idiotic, loose cannon comment on Imus when Imus asked him, "So do you think your having zero foreign relations experience will have an affect on your candidacy?" Huck's response was "You're right, I do not have any foreign relations experience, but I did stay at the Holiday Inn last night." Huckabee was trying to be "funny" but PEOPLE! This race is for the President of the United States, Leader of the free world. Huckabee is likeable, but does not have the experience of the other GOP candidates and will defintiely flop in Iowa. Iowan's are not going to fall for his "cute" little puns that his speech writers use to distract questions from foreign policy.

    December 14, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  23. Randy, Little Rock, AR

    Its amazing that CNN will do no reporting on any of the ethics charges against Mike Huckabee. This is CNN corporate's dream candidate for Hillary because he will fall apart in the General. I have never seen a candidate with a worse Republican record and clear ethics violations make it so far. The MSM is really smart on this stuff. They know if they push a Christian to the front just like Pat Robertson, it will be our demise. At least in the past Republicans could take time to realize that Pat wasn't it, but now with a short Primary, the MSM knows that we won't have time to exam this guy, and if they just ignore the stories, no one will find out. Scares the heck out of me, its sort of the Liberal Media's revenge for having Bush for eight years. By the way folks,I live in Arkansas and Mike Huckabee would campaigned for 4 democrats in one cycle because these 4 republicans wouldn't vote for one of his tax increases. Huckabee is crazy and he threatens Republicans here all the time. I mean super creepy. Enjoy him as the nominee...

    December 14, 2007 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  24. Jon B Olathe KS

    So much talk how people are "anti-christian" simply because the are a democrat or a republican who thinks Huckabee would be a disaster in the Whitehouse.

    What a crock. There is not big "anti-christian" movement out there. Its the 75% of the country that isn't overly religious evangelicals saying to you "keep you religion in you church and out of our politics"

    It's a pro-freedom message, not an anti-christian. You can practice what ever you feel to your hearts content, but when you start trying to push governemnt policies soley on religious merit it is oppressive to those who don't share your views of religion.

    Huckabee has said over and over (like his little spot ad in the Iowa debates wed) that "you cannot keep faith from influencing your decisions." THIS IS DANGEROUS. A president is to be the leader of free men not a congregation.

    December 14, 2007 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  25. ron, stanta barbara, CA

    Apparently Ed Rollins thinks Huckabee can win the Presidency. And if you dont know who that is or dont think that matters .... well ...

    December 14, 2007 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
1 2 3 4