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. Jeremiah, Phoenix AZ

    I'm getting concerned. It appears much of Huckabee's rise is due simply to the "likeabilty" factor. Are you kidding me people? We're going to elect the most powerful person in the world because "Shucks, we like to hear his Southern voice and his witty one liners."?

    Let's discuss records, accomplishments, vision, and capacity to bring about real change.

    Nobody can touch Romney when it comes to PROVEN ABILITY TO LEAD. He's been incredibly successful in business. He brought real vision and leadership to MA and he brought people together to bring about real change. How else do you explain balancing a budget deficit without raising taxes? Finally, he took a scandal laden, financially troubled Olympics and made them a huge success.

    Mitt Romney has shown time and again in everything he has done that he is a real executive capable of taking on big problems.

    I'm amazed when I read the posts that say "Mitt hasn't told us *how* he's going to do this or that.' Are you kidding? Of ALL the candidates out there on both sides, Romney is the ONLY candidate who has actually put a real health care in place. he doesn't need to speculate about how it might be done. HE'S ALREADY DONE IT!! Just like he did with health care, just like he did erasing a budget deficit without raising taxes, just like he turned around the Olympics and countless businesses…like he's *always* done, he'll lay out a clear plan, put the right people in place, and execute.

    That's what we need people – A PROVEN LEADER.

    I am definitely voting for ROMNEY!

    December 14, 2007 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  2. Tom W - Dedham, Mass

    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.

    Posted By Chuck, Miami, FL : December 14, 2007 9:34 am

    First off "Chuck", he is losing his lead in the polls because of the moronic, bible thumping bigots who are supporting someone based on their faith.

    As a Christian who happens to lean Conservative, I am disgusted that these narrow minded fools are even associated with the GOP.

    Can you post some thinga that you like about Huckabee, some stances on issues?

    Maybe you like instate tuition for illegals, parole for convicted murderers, parole at an average of 1 every four days he was in office etc, etc among his "stances".

    Just like ROMNEY, I don't like ANY of those either.

    Nominate him Republicans and I am taking my vote to Obama or Biden.

    December 14, 2007 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  3. Kelly, New Hampshire

    Huckabee is a great candidate- like all voters should do- check his record, you can't believe all candidates when they say "I'll do this and I'll do that," you have to check their record. By the way – global warming isn't as bad as they say- we've had more snow up in New England in the past few weeks than ever- AND I just saw a program about how the artic ice is growing- the weather channel says it's a scam! I believe there is some to a certain degree- but not nearly as bad as they say. I love how people criticize others (like Bush) and have yet to even try and walk in his shoes- he's got the hardest job on the planet!

    December 14, 2007 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Huckabee vs Obama

    sounds a lot better than

    Rudy vs Hillary

    December 14, 2007 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  5. Rafi, NY NY

    22 percent told pollsters early primary results could help them decide.

    Does anyone else think it's sad that more than a fifth of voters openly admitted that they'll vote for whoever the majority is, rather than thinking for themselves?

    December 14, 2007 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  6. Ann

    It's not that Democrats don't like religion. It's just that they don't feel it..

    December 14, 2007 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  7. Samantha

    He's surging in GOP polls because when so called conservative chrisitians here the word Jesus they are automatically sold. While I admit there are problems in this country most of them will not be solved by a baptist minister president. I was raised southern baptist and most members are the most hypocritical and judgemental of any religion I've came into contact with.

    December 14, 2007 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  8. richard b Tampa Florida

    whoops.... there still are a few thinking, decent amercians with a sense of moral bearing left. I guess Hollywood hasn't had quite enough time to brainwash all amercians yet. Are you getting the picture you self serving, professional Washington elites, Amercia isn't quite sold out completely, if a canidate like Huckaby can generate poll numbers like he is doing there may be some hope for this disfunctional, goning down the drain country yet! I LIKE MIKE!(and I dont mean Vick).

    December 14, 2007 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  9. Dan

    Huckabee vs Obama

    Please let's have a battle of ideas not a Hillary vs. Rudy battle of sleaze.

    December 14, 2007 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  10. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    It is not surprising that a former preacher is going to be in the lead in these single-issue voting states. The problem for Huck is that he has little chance to gain the votes of moderate Republicans (who will most likely support Giuliani due to his moderate social views and proven leadership capabilities) and absolutely no chance to gain the votes of independents (who don't vote for candidates who don't believe in evolution, suggest that sick people be isolated from society, suggest that women should be submissive to their men, etc. etc.)

    Given that Huck can only get the votes of the Christian conservative element, it means that he would have no shot whatsoever if seriously competing in a general election. Just look at how excited the Democtratic strategists get when they speak about Huck. He is to them, as Hillary is to the Republicans.

    December 14, 2007 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  11. AJ, IL

    When are most Americans going to stop deluding themselves? Most Americans care passionately about one or two issues and based the rest of their decision for a presidential candidate on personality and character.

    Huckabee and Obama have loads of personality and character. Hillary is still hanging strong due to her last name being Clinton and that she is a woman. Rudy is still hanging strong due to his association with 9/11.

    December 14, 2007 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  12. G.M. Meadville, PA


    December 14, 2007 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. Ian, Eastham MA

    "Nobody can touch Romney when it comes to PROVEN ABILITY TO LEAD"

    Welcome to Mass and the proof that your wrong

    December 14, 2007 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  14. Francesco Calco --Olmsted Falls, Ohio 44138


    -–Oprah Winfrey has been buying up young and middle aged white women for many years-waiting for the right moment to throw them into the black take over of America...With Obama now–and herself as the king-maker–she seems to have gathered in some
    85-90 % of the black population to go along with the frenzie of "at last a
    Black savaior" to save us from the white boss man.....As Bill Clinton would do to Hillary --should Barak
    be elicted--he would be sent to the salt mines–and the 'Oparh' would declair herself as the first --
    - "Queen of America" !

    December 14, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. aaron, minneapolis mn

    Go GOPs!! Please vote for Huckleberry. Another idiot err I mean George Bush in the white house...perfect.

    December 14, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  16. Tim, Seattle

    To Chris, Middletown, CT

    The cold war called and wants their rhetoric back!. The commies arent under your bed anymore and Red Dawn is just a movie. So put away your commie ray gun and socialist decoder ring and join the 21st century. I am tired of yawning at all your paranoid socialist diatribes.

    December 14, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  17. J Williamson, Buffalo, NY

    As far as Obama is concerned, I have a couple of thoughts, which may be right on the money – or not at all! My feeling is that the Obama campaign made a big tactical error by show-casing Oprah four weeks before the(Iowa) election. I think he's already hit his high-water mark and will drop 5 to 7 points by election day. He's opened himself (along with Oprah) to too much speculation and second-guessing. Forget phone numbers and email addresses – people will come out or they won't. Nothing new about this observation. Yes, I do believe the Obama campaign should have done the "Oprah tour" in the closing days of the campaign and thusly rode to victory. No time for the negativity to fully set in. This doesn't speak to the highest ideals of human nature, but, after all, we're talking American presendential politics here. P.S. For those of you out there who are entirely mesmerized by this presidential section process, may I recommend getting a copy of "Making of a President 1968," by Theodore White. I'm guessing it's long out of print, but if your local library is worth its salt, they should have a copy on file. Hubert H. Humphrey – now THERE was a candidate.

    December 14, 2007 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  18. Rich

    Someone plz teach Huck ho to brush his teeth. Run the country what joke Don't all you people know this is all BS CNN PROPAGANDA

    December 14, 2007 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  19. Felicia, North Carolina

    Yikes! Has anyone been paying attention to WHY Huckabee has taken the lead? Romney had a lead in 4 key early states and has lost most of this lead due to the "religion card" Huckabee has played. You don't have to agree with Romney's Mormonism, but there should NEVER be a religious test and smears put on a candidate that has occured in the last month. Romney clearly has the most experience out of the GOP Candidates and is a clear trouble shooter when it comes to cleaning up a mess.

    December 14, 2007 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  20. Mike, Provo, UT

    If Huckabee manages to take Iowa and South Carolina, there's little doubt that Giuliani will take most of the rest of the nation and end up with the nomination. However, if Romney can manage wins in the early states there's a good chance he can ride the momentum to a national win... I think that's what it comes down to.

    December 14, 2007 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  21. Lourie Salley, Salley, SC

    Romney and Thompson have lost points, and Huckabee and Ron Paul have gained in South Carolina, largely as a result of Ronmney's insulting remarks about the Confederate flag.All over the South Carolina, signs are appearing, that say "Dump Romney" or "Dump Thompson", and "Dump McCain" with the Confederate flag.Signs are going up that read, "Romney-Carpetbagger", and "Thompson-Scalawag".Laugh if you will, but politicians court political suicide in the South by insulting Southerners and their flag

    December 14, 2007 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  22. Indy in AZ

    And this too, shall pass.

    December 14, 2007 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  23. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    Jeremiah, I am definitely voting for ROMNEY too!

    NO Huck and Chuck in the White House!

    December 14, 2007 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  24. j.r.

    gone with clinton! why do you think she should be president? She looks tired already.

    December 15, 2007 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  25. New Brunswick, NJ

    Ron Paul is actually a lot higher. He has fans everywhere. Don't let the mainstream media fool you! they should realize that Americans have awoke from their slumbers! Huckabee isn't that popular, the MSM wants the Dems to crush him (because he is so pathetic) and are scared of Ron Paul! Why do you think we have all these candidates now mocking RP, talking about the income tax and preaching the constitution!

    December 15, 2007 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
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