Billionaire Donald Trump remains the top choice for South Carolinians and Georgians likely to vote in the Republican primary,capturing 28 and 35 percent, respectively, according to results of an Opinion Savvy poll.  People were asked which candidate they would support out of 13 candidates running in the primary to determine the Republican presidential nominee.

When the choices were limited to only five candidates, 32 percent chose Trump in the South Carolina poll, while 40 percent selected Trump in Georgia. The two states parted ways on their No. 2 choice, however. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz came in second in the five-man field, collecting 24 percent in South Carolina, while U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio came in second in Georgia with 19 percent. Cruz trailed Rubio by only one point in Georgia. The other candidates included in the narrower list were former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

The polls in both states included about 540 people, weighted for age and other demographics. Respondents were registered voters who were randomly selected and surveyed on the evening of December 16 on their landline and cellphones.  ”The big story here is that Trump still holds his share of the vote and the lead, but with the fading fortunes of Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Cruz is moving up quickly,” pollster and political analyst Matt Towery, a managing partner of Opinion Savvy, LLC.  “We found this to be the case in other neighboring states that were polled this week.” 

Support for Trump’s proposal on a temporary ban on allowing Muslims into the country was nearly 70 percent of the likely primary voters. Towery said South Carolina’s results are also reflected in other polls in neighboring states.  “It appears that the debates are having a bigger impact on the overall race now,” said Towery. Nearly 61 percent of respondents said they watched the Republican Presidential debate hosted by CNN on December 15th. 

“Trump and Cruz were viewed as the winners of the contest and they lead in the race in South Carolina. Jeb Bush was viewed as having performed poorly in the debate, and thus trails both in South Carolina and in neighboring states post-debate.” 

Earlier in the month the Winthrop Poll found Trump on top, too, with 24 percent of likely GOP presidential primary voters supported him. The field of choices was smaller, however, including only 11 candidates.


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