South Carolina Republican voters generally view former President Donald Trump as more electable than former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, prefer him to handle the economy and border security equally, and are more likely to say they would be satisfied with him as his party’s candidate. – all pointing to Haley’s challenges in her home state’s Republican primary on Saturday, preliminary exit poll results show.

Seventy-two percent of preliminary results would be satisfied with Trump as a candidate compared to 41% satisfied with Haley.

Voters also prefer Trump to handle the economy over Haley, 70-28%, and border security, 73-25%. And 83% say Trump is likely to win in November versus 55% who say the same about Haley, indicating that South Carolina primary voters were not persuaded by a key part of Haley’s stump speech. .

In fact, 63% of South Carolina Republican voters see Trump as “very” likely to defeat President Joe Biden in November, compared to just 24% who say the same about Haley.

Sixty-five percent in these preliminary results also say they would consider Trump fit to be president even if he were convicted of a crime; 32% would not consider him suitable for the position.

There was a closer 54% to 42% split on this question in the New Hampshire primary, where Haley was 11 points behind Trump. It was 65% to 31% in the Iowa caucuses, which Trump won by a record margin. He (he faces 91 charges and denies any wrongdoing and pleads not guilty).

Much of Trump’s advantage in South Carolina is structural: Sixty-one percent of Republican voters identify as white evangelical Christians, who have become a core support group for Trump; this compares to 19% in New Hampshire. And 80% of Saturday’s voters are conservative, including 43% very conservative, again a blessing for the former president.

Haley, for her part, has done better in previous races with independents and moderates, two groups comparatively difficult to find among South Carolina’s Republican primary voters. According to these preliminary results, twenty-seven percent are independent, compared to 44% in New Hampshire. And 20% are moderate or liberal compared to 33% in New Hampshire.

PHOTO: Voters cast their ballots at Kilbourne Park Baptist Church during the Republican presidential primary in Columbia, South Carolina, on February 24, 2024.

Voters cast their ballots at Kilbourne Park Baptist Church during the Republican presidential primary in Columbia, South Carolina, on February 24, 2024.

Sam Wolfe/Reuters

The conservative lean of South Carolina’s Republican primary voters is reflected in other attitudes, preliminary results show. Seventy percent say most unauthorized immigrants in the United States should be deported. Sixty-five percent falsely think Biden did not legitimately win the 2020 election. Fifty-four percent say they would favor a federal law banning all or most abortions nationwide. And, with Biden as president, 88% are dissatisfied or angry with the way things are going in the country, including 46 percent angry.

Demonstrating his appeal in the state’s primary, 91% of Trump voters in these preliminary results say they voted primarily for his candidate, rather than against his opponent.

Among Haley voters, by contrast, 59% primarily support her; 40% voted primarily to oppose Trump.

At the same time, in a disappointing preliminary result for Trump, nearly half of voters, 45%, identify as “part of the MAGA movement” he started.

That said, Haley’s campaign speech questioning Trump’s age (and her call for mental competency testing for candidates over 75) doesn’t appear to have swayed many voters. In fact, in these preliminary results, more people say Trump has the physical and mental health necessary to serve effectively as president, 72%, than say the same about Haley, 60%.

In a list of four issues, 41% say immigration was the most important thing in their vote, 31% choose the economy, 11% foreign policy and 10% abortion.

Regarding the economy, only 22% say they are making progress financially. And 46% rate the national economy as “poor”, more than in New Hampshire (38%), and there is a very strong Trump group there.

Among the four candidate attributes, 37% say they are mainly looking for a candidate who “fights for people like me”, 33% for one who shares their values, 13% for the right temperament and an additional 13% for the most suitable candidate. capable. to defeat Biden.

Another preliminary result shows the extent to which voting preferences have held up: Seventy-eight percent say they chose their candidate last year.

These results will be updated.

By Sam