Former President Donald Trump, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley in a 2017 photo. | Photo via Wikipedia

A new poll illustrates how South Carolina’s traditional first-in-the-South presidential primary in 2024 could pose strategic problems for former President Donald Trump, who announced a bid for reelection this week.

new Winthrop Poll suggests Trump is leading among Palmetto State Republicans, but only by the hair of his chinny-chin chin.  Who’s potentially in the way? Kiawah Island resident and former S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, a former ambassador to the United Nations for Trump.  

In the new poll taken before election day, some 45% of Republican voters in South Carolina said they would back Trump for the 2024 GOP nomination.  But just 8 points back was Haley at 37%.  “Someone else” was mentioned 10% of the time and 8% said they were not sure.  Not mentioned was another South Carolinian purportedly mulling a presidential run – U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, who just won a landslide reelection victory.

“Haley has a strong showing against the former president, who is popular within his party,” said Winthrop Poll director Scott Huffmon.  “Since this was conducted before the disappointing midterm results, for which many Republicans blame Trump, her star may have risen even further.”

Soon after Trump announced his third bid to be president, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster issued an endorsement.  But there was no word from Scott or Haley, who has said she’ll make her plans known in January.  

Other poll results include:

Abortion.  An overwhelming number of South Carolina voters – 92% of Democrats and 80% of Republicans – said women should be able to get a legal abortion if pregnancy threatens their lives or health.  If the pregnancy was the result of a rape, 82% said women should be able to get a legal abortion. When asked if women should be able to get a legal abortion for any reason, about three in four Democrats said yes versus one in four Republicans, according to the poll.

Medical marijuana.  More than three-quarters of S.C. voters favor medical marijuana, but that dropped to half when they were asked about recreational marijuana.

Sports gambling.  Half of respondents said they favored legalized gambling on sports.  

Same-sex marriage.  More than half of all respondents said same-sex marriages should be recognized by law as valid.  But half of Republicans disagreed.  

Church and state.  Almost seven in 10 of those polled said it was important for the country to maintain the legal separation between church and state.  Half said the federal government should not declare the United States to be a Christian nation, but a third said it should, according to the poll.  

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