The first independent poll on the First Congressional District race shows Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch and Republican Mark Sanford in a virtual dead heat.
Public Policy Polling, which tends to lean left, found Colbert Busch leading Sanford by 47 to 45 percent. Against Curtis Bostic, Colbert Busch is even at 43 percent each.
The full poll results can be viewed HERE.
Nevertheless, the results are a surprise as the 1st has been held by Republicans for more than 30 years. The seat was vacated by Tim Scott's appointment to the Senate by Nikki Haley in December. The general election is on May 7.
Sanford won the Republican primary on March 19 with 37 percent of the vote. He still must win a run-off against Bostic, a former Charleston County Councilman, on April 2 to earn the right to face Colbert Busch.
Against Bostic, the poll shows Sanford with a 53-40 lead.
The results indicate that the district may not be ready to forgive Sanford for his transgressions as governor. It also would seem to confirm the influence women, who make up a solid majority in the district, will have on the race.
Among Democrats, Colbert Busch has 89 percent of the vote. Sanford is not as popular with Republicans, as 76 percent support him, but 85 percent say they would vote for him in a general election.
Tellingly, Colbert Busch leads by 16-18 percent among independent voters.
The secret to the results are strongly linked to each candidate's favorable/unfavorable numbers. Colbert Busch's are 45/31 while Sanford's are 34/58.
"While the Republicans are fighting over ideological extremes rather than talking about what is right for South Carolina’s families and businesses, Elizabeth’s focus on creating new jobs, responsibly tackling our debt, and expanding our economic resources in South Carolina is resonating with the people of the 1st District," said James Smith, spokesman for the Colbert Busch campaign.
As far as individuals who could potentially influence the race, Stephen Colbert's favorable/unfavorable figures are at 36/27.
Jenny Sanford continues to be wildly popular at 55/18.
Amanda Alpert Loveday, executive director of the South Carolina Democratic Party, told Patch, "It's no surprise that the 1st Congressional District is supporting Elizabeth Colbert Busch. She's a proven business woman who can bring new jobs to the district and represent South Carolina without embarrassment."
Michael Mule', a conservative consultant in the Lowcountry, cautioned against reading too much into the poll.
"We must remember that there is still a primary run-off left," Mule' said. "If Gov. Sanford is the Republican nominee, the Democrats must remember this isn't a race for student council president where a celebrity brother will get you votes. This is a race for Congress, where accomplishments on the issues matter. Gov. Sanford has a proven record on tackling wasteful spending and fighting debt; Ms. Busch only has a celebrity brother."