Public Policy Polling (March 22-24; 1,175 likely SC-1 special election voters; 648 self-described Republican run-off voters) released the results of their first post-special primary survey and found scandal-plagued former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford (R) to be leading ex-Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic (R) by a 53-40 percent count. The poll suggests that Bostic has so far failed to coalesce the substantial anti-Sanford vote behind his candidacy. In the first election, featuring 16 Republican candidates, the former governor placed first with 37 percent of the vote, while Bostic just grabbed second place with 13 percent.
But the most surprising part of PPP’s poll is how the two Republicans fare against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the special general. Despite SC-1 being a heavily Republican district, the data shows that Busch has a small 47-45 percent lead over Sanford and ties Bostic at 43 percent.
The two results are surprising in different ways. First, many would believe that Busch’s lead over Sanford would be greater considering his heavy personal negatives in conjunction with his highly publicized international extra-marital affair. But Bostic, on the other hand, without carrying such heavy political baggage should actually be in a stronger position than a dead heat when being paired with the Democratic nominee.
The Republicans have had trouble winning special elections during the past few years, even in strong partisan seats such as the one in southeast South Carolina. The April 2 run-off is only a little more than a week away, which now stacks up well for Sanford. Based upon this now available polling data, expect the special general to be much more competitive than originally forecast.