Poll: South Carolina Democrats, African American voters leaving Biden

A focus on the wrong issues has left Biden’s most loyal supporters dropping him

College loan forgiveness is the wrong policy for nation, South Carolina

President Biden continues to lose support in South Carolina as only 34% of state voters say they approve of his job performance. That’s according to a new poll by Morning Consult conducted on behalf of the South Carolina Policy Council, the Palmetto State’s longest-serving free market research organization.

The poll sampled 529 registered South Carolina voters from August 11th – 16th. It has a margin of error of +/- 4%.

Driven by high gas and food prices, South Carolina voters have become more pessimistic over the summer. 75% now say the country is on the wrong track – a 10% increase since early June. Only 1 in 4 South Carolina voters think the country is heading in the right direction. 

South Carolina again mirrors the country, as an NBC national poll taken around the same time reveals just 21% of voters feel the nation is headed in the right direction, while nearly three in four (74%) think it is not.

President Biden recently signed into law the “Inflation Reduction Act,” which raised $737 billion in new taxes and spends $369 billion on climate change programs. While President Biden and his allies celebrated the legislative victory, only 7% of South Carolina voters say they consider energy issues such as carbon emissions and renewable energy as their top issue when it comes to federal elections.

As President Biden announced a controversial effort to unilaterally cancel billions in federal college student loans, only 3% of S.C. voters say education issues, including the question of student loans, are their top concern.

By contrast, 45% of South Carolina voters say that economic issues involving taxes, wages, and government spending are their biggest concern when thinking about how to vote. National security, which includes the status of our southern border, polled second among voters at 11%.

Biden’s South Carolina approval rating of 34% is a nine-point drop compared to the 43% share of votes he received from Palmetto State voters in the 2020 general election. Mr. Biden had an approval rating of 39% in the latest SCPC poll released in early June. 96% of Republicans, 57% of independents, and 20% of Democrats currently disapprove of Mr. Biden’s job performance.

The poll also revealed that the President is losing the support of African Americans voters. Currently, 63% of Black South Carolina voters approve of Mr. Biden’s job performance. By contrast, SCPC’s June voter survey showed support among Black voters for Biden at 78%.

Black South Carolina voters famously rescued Biden’s 2020 campaign, leading him to victory in the state primary. Biden’s approval with Black South Carolinians (63%) is 16% less than the 79% of Democrats that approve of his job performance.

“President Biden’s falling numbers with key voting groups is directly related to the Administration’s focus on tax-and-spend policies that do not resonate with working South Carolinians,” said Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the South Carolina Policy Council.

While the poll was taken before President Biden’s announcement that he will cancel up to $20,000 of college student debt for millions of people, Woodhouse said the narrow focus on this group would likely further hurt Biden in South Carolina.

“The numbers don’t lie. The median income in South Carolina currently sits at just above $49,000. Forcing working-class South Carolinians to pay the student loans of a person who makes $120,000 a year in Massachusetts is fundamentally unfair,“ said Woodhouse.

The poll also found that 70% of South Carolina voters believe the federal government has too much control over their day-to-day lives, including 50% of Democrats, 75% of independents, and 83% of Republicans.

“With more than half of South Carolina voters saying they have little or no trust in the federal government, this is a terrible time for Mr. Biden to add 87,000 new IRS employees to ramp up tax audits,” said Woodhouse.

In general, South Carolinians have more trust in state and local government than in federal government. Just 44% of voters trust the federal government somewhat to completely. 29% say they have no trust at all. Meanwhile, 60% of voters trust state government somewhat to completely, and 67% have a similar range of trust in local government.

While state lawmakers are debating changes to South Carolina’s abortion laws, just 9% of state voters say “women’s issues such as birth control, abortion and equal pay” are their top concern. 17% of Democrats say women’s issues are their main priority, followed by 11% of independents and 3% of GOP voters.

Meanwhile, voter support for the recently passed tax cuts remains high. The law lowered the top personal income tax from 7% to 6.5%, a number that will continue seeing incremental reductions until reaching 6%. It also consolidated the lower tax bracket to just 3%.

60% of voters say they support the income tax cut, including 56% of Democrats, 50% of independents, and 69% Republicans. When told about the tax rates of neighboring states, just 15% of voters said they do not support the income tax reduction. 

“Voters understand that tax reform is essential for our state to remain competitive. Lawmakers should keep up the good work and make lower taxes a continued priority for South Carolina,” said Woodhouse.

Find the full survey results here. If you have questions about the poll or would like arrange an interview please email dallas@scpolicycouncil.org.

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