April 16th, 2024

A majority of South Carolina Republicans oppose continued Ukraine aid, AP VoteCast shows

By Josh Boak And Linley Sanders (), The Associated Press on February 24, 2024.

Residents walk into their voting precinct after voting on the morning of the South Carolina Republican primary at New Bridge Academy in Cayce, S.C., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Washington (AP) – Many voters in South Carolina’s Republican”¯primary on Saturday want a United States that is less willing to openly challenge”¯Russia ““ a sign of how the Cold War-era GOP establishment has given way to former President Donald Trump’s “America First” ethos.

On the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and days after the death of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, AP VoteCast finds a GOP electorate with lukewarm feelings toward NATO and skepticism about the value of confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin. About 6 in 10 oppose continuing aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

About half of South Carolina’s voters want the United States to take a less active role in solving the world’s problems. Only about a third described America’s participation in NATO as “very good,” with more saying it’s only “somewhat good.”

This pullback from the world is not entirely about isolationism. Most GOP voters still support aid for Israel for its war against Hamas. But Republican voters choosing between Trump and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley see the biggest threats against the United States as internal rather than external.

As was the case in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, voters say immigration is the country’s most pressing problem. About 8 in 10favor building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. And roughly three-quarters say immigrants do more to hurt than help the country. The similarities seen across the Republican primary contest points to an electorate that has become less regional in nature and more nationalized in terms of beliefs and priorities.

AP VoteCast is a survey of more than 2,300 voters taking part in Saturday’s Republican primary in South Carolina, conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

WHO VOTED

The South Carolina primary drew what has become a reliable base of Republican voters: older, white and without college degrees. South Carolina is a more racially diverse state than Iowa and New Hampshire, but about 9 in 10 Republican voters in this election are white. Around half are white evangelical Christians. Roughly 7 in 10 are older than 45, and about two-thirds do not have a college degree.

Approximately one-third of voters live in military households, and about two-thirds live in homes with firearms. Most identify as conservatives, with 6 in 10 saying they support the Make America Great Again movement. About half live in small towns or rural communities.

ABORTION

Few South Carolina Republicans said abortion was the top issue facing the country, yet they hold an array of opinions regarding the legality of the procedure in a reflection of the uncertainties created by the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in 2022.

Most South Carolina Republicans want to restrict abortion access. Just over 1 in 10 say the procedure should be banned in all cases, while nearly half say it ought to be illegal in most cases. Another 3 in 10 say it should be legal in most cases, while about 1 in 10 say it should be legal in all cases.

Primary voters also want to limit how much time pregnant women would have to make a decision on abortion. About 6 in 10 favor a ban at”¯six weeks of pregnancy. Lengthening the ban to 15 weeks brings in a few more supporters, as about three-quarters see that restriction as acceptable.

TRUMP INVESTIGATIONS

Trump is facing the possibility of multiple criminal convictions”¯this year, but relatively few Republican voters believe he acted illegally in even one of the of the legal cases against him: his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, his alleged attempts to interfere in the vote count in the 2020 presidential election or the discovery of classified documents at his Florida home that were supposed to be in government custody.

About three-quarters of South Carolina voters say the charges against Trump are political attempts to undermine him, rather than legitimate efforts to enforce the law. Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire felt similarly.

Large majorities are confident that Trump has the mental capability to serve as president, can win in November, would stand up and fight for people like them and would keep the country safe. Still, roughly than 4 in 10 have at least some concerns that Trump is too extreme to win the general election.

THE SENATORS

Both of South Carolina’s senators have challenged and courted Trump over the years.

About 6 in 10 South Carolina Republican voters say they have a favorable opinion of Sen. Tim Scott, whose short-lived run for president ended before nomination contests began. Scott has since endorsed Trump, who is weighing him as a possible vice-presidential pick.

The state’s other Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, ran against Trump in the 2016 primaries, only to then become a golfing buddyand political ally after Trump’s victory. About half of voters in the state have an unfavorable opinion of Graham, while only about 4 in 10 say they have a favorable opinion.

AP VoteCast “¯is a survey of the American electorate conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research for AP and Fox News. The survey of”¯2,377 Republican primary voters was conducted for five”¯days, concluding as polls close. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. The survey combines a random sample of registered voters drawn from state voter files and self-identified registered voters selected from nonprobability online panels. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus”¯2.7″¯percentage points for Republican primary voters.

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