A recent survey of Palmetto State voters, conducted by Public Policy Polling, found that Obama would lose South Carolina in a General Election by six and seven percent if facing major potential candidates Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, respectively.
The spread between the president and DeMint, however, is only two percent – 45-47 in favor of the senator. With a remaining eight percent undecided, the doors would be wide open for Obama to become the first Democrat to win South Carolina’s electoral votes since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
The same survey also reports Obama leads in the state over Sarah Palin (47-41) and Newt Gingrich (44-43).
DeMint told media “no, I’m not” running for president on January 26, less than one week after placing sixth in the New Hampshire Straw Poll without any campaigning.
The very next day, however, his advisers said the possibility was still open, and state GOP consultant Terry Sullivan said DeMint “would certainly be the odds-on favorite here.”
Since then, DeMint accepted invitation to appear at Iowa’s “First in the Nation” caucus on March 26, and agreed to join confirmed candidates at an April 29 Republican forum in New Hampshire, where the first GOP primary takes place on February 6 of next year.
According to another recent PPP survey, Republican voters would select DeMint in a South Carolina presidential primary race with 24 percent of the vote, followed by Huckabee (20), Romney (17), Palin (12), Gingrich (10), Ron Paul (4), Tim Pawlenty (3) and Mitch Daniels (2 percent).
Without DeMint in the lineup, the order would remain the same with Huckabee taking a 26 percent plurality.
In South Carolina’s 2008 GOP presidential primary, Huckabee came in a close second (29.8 percent) to winner and eventual nominee Sen. John McCain (33.2 percent). Romney, who was endorsed by DeMint, placed fourth in that election, three-tenths of a percentage point behind Fred Thompson’s third-place 15.6.
McCain went on to take South Carolina in the ’08 General Election, leading Obama by nine percent.
The recent news and rumors resulted in a “Draft Jim DeMint” group, which now has a website covering progress on DeMint’s potential campaign.
South Carolina should host the fourth of national GOP presidential primary elections in 2012, taking place after February 18 and before March 5 of that year.