The race for Sen. Tim Scott‘s (R-SC) vacated congressional seat is about to begin in earnest, and early polling shows Elizabeth Colbert-Busch holding a slim lead over former South Carolina Governor and Appalachian Trailblazer Mark Sanford. Colbert-Busch, the sister (pronounced “sis-TARE) of Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert, holds a 47%-45% lead over Sanford, while just tying Sanford’s runoff opponent for the First District’s Republican nomination, Curtis Bostic, at 43%.
Sanford won 37% of the vote in last week’s primary, but since he failed to get above 50%, will face Bostic (who captured just 13% in that primary) in an April 2 runoff election. Colbert-Busch’s polling against the two Republicans may be close now, but in that district, it’s a good place to start from. From Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling:
PPP’s first look at the special election in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District finds a toss up race. Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch leads Republican Mark Sanford 47-45 and ties Curtis Bostic at 43.
This is a Republican leaning district and Barack Obama’s approval rating in it is only 41% with 57% of voters disapproving of him. But Democrats are far more unified than the Republicans are. Busch is winning 87-89% of the Democratic vote while Sanford (76%) and Bostic (72%) are both earning less than 80% of the GOP vote. Busch is also up by 16-18 points with independent voters.
Sanford remains a strong favorite for the Republican nomination heading into next week’s runoff. He leads Bostic 53/40. The horse race numbers closely mirror his favorability with GOP voters- 55% see him positively to 40% with a negative opinion. If there’s a silver lining for Bostic it’s that he still has a name recognition deficit- 77% of voters have heard of him to 95% for Sanford- and among voters who are familiar with him he trails Sanford only 49/46. That suggests some possibility of closing as voters focus in on the choice between the two in the final weeks, but Bostic may just not have enough time.
Colbert-Busch’s famous brother has been, and will continue to be, stumping for his sister, which could widen her lead significantly. Despite the host’s conservative-lampooning show, Stephen Colbert actually beat then-Rep. Tim Scott in another PPP poll that asked South Carolinians who they wanted to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jim DeMint.
Stephen Colbert’s favorability rating of 36% in the district is higher than Sanford’s 34%, and only 27% of voters have an unfavorable opinion of him. But the really effective surrogate in the district would be Jenny Sanford, who has a 55/18 favorability rating and is seen positively by majorities of Republicans (57/15), independents (54/16), and Democrats (53/24) alike. Also helpful to Sanford’s cause would be Tim Scott who has a 53/26 approval, making him much more popular in the district than Nikki Haley (41/45) and Lindsey Graham (40/44) are.
Can Mark Sanford get past Curtis Bostic, and over the Colbert Bump™, or will South Carolina voters tell him to take another hike? Stay tuned.
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