ROCK HILL, S.C. (WCBD)- South Carolina residents are split on how fair the 2020 election was, according to a new statewide poll.
The latest poll, released by Winthrop University on May 25, revealed that South Carolinians are still deeply divided on the certification of President Joe Biden’s win over Donald Trump.
Nearly half (47%) of those surveyed said it was a fair election, while 45% said it was not. On the partisan level, 85% of Democratic responders called the November election fair and 77% of Republicans said it was not.
“Belief, or at least desire to publicly express belief, in the premise that the outcome of the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent remains a major partisan point of division,” Winthrop Poll Director Scott Huffmon said in a release. “While no widespread fraud was found, it remains a touchstone of Republican identity in South Carolina to vocally express doubt.”
The general population poll, which has a 3.4% margin of error, surveyed nearly 900 South Carolina residents via phone between April 2 and April 24.
As President Biden’s approval rating dipped to a record 39%, his favorability in South Carolina is even lower at 32%. More than two-thirds of respondents expressed disapproval of Biden’s performance, while a little over half gave Trump a favorable rating.
The results demonstrate the continuing stronghold that Trump has on South Carolina Republicans. 89% of self-identifying Republicans said they had a favorable view of the former president, but a majority (83%) of Democrats look at him unfavorably.
The partisan divide trickles down to state leaders, too
Governor Henry McMaster and Former Governor Nikki Haley remain popular with the general population at favorability ratings of 55% and 63%, respectively. As expected both received strong approval from Republicans at 80% and 82%, respectively.
Senator Tim Scott boasted a 66% approval rating while Senator Lindsey Graham received a 58% disapproval rating among the general public. Both received high marks from GOP respondents at 89% and 65%, respectively.
When it comes to expressing political opinions, nearly half of residents said they refrained from sharing political opinions out of fear of being verbally attacked or harassed. It was a sentiment echoed more by Republican respondents than Democrats.
“Cancel culture is alive and well in the minds of South Carolina Republicans,” Huffman noted. “Half of self-identified Republicans noted that they were afraid to publicly express their political opinions out of fear of harassment compared to only 37% of Democrats.”
Aside from politicians, Winthrop also polled residents’ attitudes on race, especially how it plays into the education system.
80% of white respondents said they had not experienced discrimination in the past year based on their race, while 43% of black respondents said they did.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they were familiar with so-called critical race theory, a hot-button issue at the center of national education debate. Simply put, critical race theory examines the role of embedded racism in U.S. institutions but has become a catch-all term for any discussion of systemic racism.
Several states, including South Carolina, have taken steps to ban teaching CRT in public schools, a move which 44% of South Carolina residents said they support.
Along partisan lines, almost 70% of Republicans favored proposed bans, while 80% of Democrats opposed them. Along racial lines, 65% of black residents said they opposed a ban on CRT, while half of white residents said they support it.
“Critical Race Theory is a topic that demonstrates that racially related issues have become more polarizing on the basis of partisanship than even on the basis of race itself,” Huffman said.
Further exemplifying the divisiveness of race in South Carolina is the symbolism of Confederate memorials.
The survey found that although only one-third of all respondents said Confederate soldier memorials should be left alone, 43% of S.C. residents said the Confederate flag reminded them of white supremacy and conflict.
70% of black respondents said the flag emits feelings of racial conflict and half of white respondents said the flag is more a symbol of Southern pride.
The Confederate flag was removed from the Statehouse grounds in 2015 following the deadly white supremacist attack at Emanuel AME Church. Even more recently, the John C. Calhoun statue was removed from Marion Square in 2020 and still awaits relocation.
Overall, the poll illustrates that political conservatism is strong in South Carolina, and the state remains sharply divided on key issues.