Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in January he was testing the waters for a presidential run. Now, some new polling underscores the long- shot nature of a Graham 2016 bid.
An NBC News/Marist poll published Sunday took stock of the Republican's prospects in his home-state primary. On its face, it may look mildly encouraging for Graham—he's in the mix with 17 percent, followed by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush with 15 percent, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker with 12 percent, and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 10 percent each. (That's among 450 potential Republican voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.)
But the poll suggests the state that sent Graham back to the Senate by a 15-point margin last fall wants him to stick to the job he has. Fifty-eight percent of registered voters said Graham should not run for president in 2016, compared to 35 percent who said he should run. The numbers were similar among South Carolina residents in general: 55 percent said no, 36 percent said yes. (Eight hundred seventy seven registered voters were polled with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points, and 1,015 residents were polled with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.)
And in the states that have traditionally held the first two nominating contests of the presidential election, Graham's numbers are bleak. In Iowa, he took just 1 percent of potential Republican caucus-goers. His share was the same among potential voters in the New Hampshire GOP primary. (NBC/Marist surveyed 320 potential Iowa Republican caucus-goers with a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points, and 381 potential New Hampshire Republican primary voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.) The polls were taken Feb. 3-10.
Graham has acknowledged that whether he has a viable path outside of the Palmetto State is an open question. “We’ll see if there’s a pathway forward for a guy like me,” he said on Fox on Jan. 29. “Time will tell.”
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