(The Hill) — Former President Trump topped Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by 21 points in a hypothetical new GOP primary poll in South Carolina, one of the first states to vote in the Republican primary.
A poll from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, found Trump leading a potential Republican field with 41% of registered Republicans supporting him, followed by DeSantis with 20%.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who also served as ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, came in a close third with 18%, while South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott followed with 7%.
The poll’s release comes amid Scott’s announcement on Wednesday that he is launching a presidential exploratory committee to allow him to raise money for a campaign and potentially move toward officially running. He is planning to visit the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina this week.
Almost three-quarters of Republican respondents (74%) said they viewed Trump very or somewhat favorably, while 17% said they view him very or somewhat unfavorably.
Respondents also said they viewed Scott’s job performance as a senator overwhelmingly positively. Almost seven in 10 Republicans said they approve of Scott’s performance, while 8% said they disapprove. A third of Democrats polled also said they approve of Scott.
Scott Huffmon, the director of Winthrop polling, said in a release that the “real story” from the poll is that Haley and DeSantis are in a “statistical dead heat” for second place in South Carolina.
DeSantis has consistently placed second in most hypothetical GOP primary polls, but Haley has long-standing ties to the state as a former governor.
Pollsters found 53% of South Carolinians polled, including 73% of Republicans, said they have a very or somewhat favorable view of Haley, while only 30% of respondents overall and 14% of Republicans view her very or somewhat unfavorably.
“Trump is riding high and doubling support over the next candidate in the field,” Huffmon said. “Haley shows more than quadruple her support compared to national polls, but that should be expected on her home turf. While DeSantis is viewed as the singular alternative to Trump in national polls, the real story here is that Haley and DeSantis are in a statistical dead heat in what could be a firewall for Haley when voting rolls around.”
The poll was conducted among 1,657 adults, including 485 Republicans who are registered to vote. The overall margin of error was 2.41 points, while the margin for Republicans was 4.45 points.