- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump holds a sizable advantage over the rest of the Republican field in South Carolina, according to a new poll conducted entirely after Saturday’s debate in Greenville.

Mr. Trump was at 35 percent support among likely South Carolina GOP primary voters in the Monmouth University poll released Wednesday, followed by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 19 percent and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 17 percent.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich was at 9 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was at 8 percent, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was at 7 percent.

The survey was conducted from Feb. 14-16 after Saturday’s GOP debate in Greenville, South Carolina.

“The overwhelmingly negative feelings of South Carolina Republicans toward the political establishment have helped Trump build upon the support he enjoyed since the summer,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, New Jersey. “The fact that six candidates are still in the race partly accounts for the size of his lead, despite the fact that he has relatively high negative ratings overall.”

In a Monmouth poll released in November, Mr. Carson had been in the lead at 28 percent, followed by Mr. Trump at 27 percent, Mr. Rubio at 11 percent, Mr. Cruz at 9 percent, and Mr. Bush at 7 percent.

In the new poll, 63 percent of likely primary voters said they were at least somewhat dissatisfied with Republican leadership in Congress, compared to 35 percent who said they were at least somewhat satisfied. And 54 percent said the country needs the next president to come from outside government, compared to 33 percent who said the country needs someone with government experience.

Mr. Trump had a 50 percent/41 percent favorable/unfavorable split, down from a 58 percent/29 percent split in November.

Mr. Carson was actually the best-liked GOP candidate, with a 62 percent/19 percent split, though that, too, was down from November, when he had a 76 percent/12 percent split.

Mr. Rubio had a positive 54 percent/28 percent split, Mr. Cruz had a 45 percent/39 percent split, Mr. Kasich had a 43 percent/22 percent split, and Mr. Bush had a 43 percent/43 percent split.

The Monmouth poll is in line with other recent surveys out of South Carolina; Mr. Trump has about a 17-point lead over Mr. Cruz in the latest RealClearPolitics average on the state.

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