Former President Donald Trump has taken a commanding lead in an earlier 2024 GOP primary state, leaving his competitors scrambling to make a dent.

Trump won South Carolina in 2016 by 10 points, but he appears poised to shatter that margin, at least for now, Fox Business reported Monday.

A poll by the outlet released over the weekend found Trump with a commanding 34-point lead in the Palmetto State, with more than half believing he will be the best candidate to defeat President Joe Biden.

The outlet added:

The new poll, released Sunday, finds almost half of South Carolina likely Republican primary voters backing Trump in the 2024 primary contest (48%).  That number is slightly larger (51%) among those who say they will definitely vote in the February 24 primary.  

Lagging far behind is former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley at 14%, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 13%, and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott at 10%.  No other candidate reaches double-digit support.

“Even though it’s still early, Trump is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in this race,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducted the Fox Business poll along with Democrat Chris Anderson. “The initial challenge is to see who can become the non-Trump candidate, and in South Carolina, that’s currently a three-way race among DeSantis, Haley, and Scott.”

Fox Business added that, among various groups, Trump’s strongest support is seen among those identifying as very conservative (57%), voters under the age of 45 (55%), voters without a college degree (53%), rural voters (52%), and White evangelicals (51%).

DeSantis, like Trump, garners his strongest support from those who identify as very conservative. In contrast, Haley and Scott find their strongest support among moderates in the state.

When Trump supporters were asked about their second choice, the majority selected DeSantis (33%), followed by Scott (17%) and Haley (15%). DeSantis backers chose Trump as their second choice (38%), followed by Scott (29%) and Haley (19%). Among Haley supporters, Scott emerged as the top second choice (38%).

“Still, Trump leads among both groups (electability vs. shares views) by more than 40 points,” the outlet noted.

Overall, and regardless of their voting plans, 51% of SC GOP primary voters believe Trump is the most capable candidate to defeat Biden in the upcoming November election. DeSantis follows with 17% support, while no other candidates reach double-digits in this regard.


When asked about their level of support for certain candidates, nearly 6 in 10 respondents express that they would “definitely” support Trump (57%). For Haley, Scott, and DeSantis, approximately 3 in 10 respondents say they would “definitely” support them, with percentages at 28%, 28%, and 27%, respectively.

Former Vice President Mike Pence (38%) holds the unenviable title of having the highest percentage of respondents saying they would “never” vote for him. Additionally, 2 in 10 respondents say the same about businessman Vivek Ramaswamy (22%), Trump (21%), DeSantis, and Haley (20% each).

A shade over half of the primary voters (51%) indicate that economic issues, including inflation, jobs, and taxes, will play the most significant role in determining their vote for the nomination. Foreign policy/defense issues, immigration issues like border security, and social issues such as abortion, religion, and gender, are tied for second place with 12% each. Populist issues like corruption and elite power rank lowest at 7%.

The first 2024 Republican presidential primary debate, hosted by Fox News, is scheduled for August 23 in Milwaukee, Wis. However, during a July 16 interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Trump revealed that he hadn’t yet “made up his mind” about attending the event, the outlet said.

Trump has since suggested that he may sit down for a one-on-one interview with Tucker Carlson on the same night as the first Republican primary debate, which is set to take place on August 23.

A new report from Vanity Fair claimed the former president is planning an event on Carlson’s popular Twitter show.

“One idea Trump is mulling is to sit for an interview with Tucker Carlson on his Twitter show at the same time as the debate, two sources briefed on the discussions said. According to one source, Trump recently reached out to Carlson and asked if Carlson would do the interview, but no decisions have been made,” Vanity Fair reported.

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