The first post-New Hampshire poll from South Carolina shows that Trump continues to lead comfortably. He leads Cruz 36-20%, while Rubio (15%), Bush (11%), Kasich (9%), and Carson (5%) divvy up the rest. That represents a slight improvement of a few points for Trump, Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich over the last poll from this same outfit. Unsurprisingly, Trump wins in almost every category. Once again, his support is spread very evenly across all different age and ideological groups. He leads Kasich among moderates by 19 points, beats Rubio among “somewhat” conservative voters by 17 points, and he even ties Cruz among the “very conservative” at 33%. In other words, Trump outdoes or matches his rivals where they are strongest, and then trounces them everywhere else. Among “somewhat” conservative and moderate Republicans, he receives more support than his next two strongest opponents combined, and those two groups account for half of the respondents.
Perhaps the most important factor explaining Trump’s success in South Carolina is that he leads Cruz even among evangelicals, and then runs away with over 40% of the non-evangelical vote. Evangelicals make up 65% of the respondents in the poll, and Trump gets roughly a third of them while Cruz gets less than a quarter. Notably, there is not much regional difference in Trump’s support: he’s at 34% in the Midlands, 37% Upstate, and 36% in the Lowcountry. He remains the dominant candidate in the state just over a week before the primary on the 20th. That is consistent with the South Carolina polling we’ve been seeing for the last few months. Except for the brief Carson surge that threatened Trump’s lead in the fall, he has been well out in front of the rest of the field at least since August, and it doesn’t seem likely to change.
Because South Carolina has a winner-takes-most/winner-take-all by district system for delegate allocation, Trump’s broad support distributed across the entire state makes it entirely possible that he could sweep all of the state’s fifty delegates. That would clearly separate him from the other candidates in the delegate count, and it would put him in a very good position going into the Nevada caucuses (2/23) and Super Tuesday on March 1. If Trump is going to be stopped somewhere, it isn’t going to be in South Carolina.