Ben Carson, Donald Trump neck and neck in South Carolina poll
WASHINGTON – Ben Carson has surged in South Carolina to pull just ahead of Donald Trump — a statistical dead heat — in the Republican presidential primary in the key early state, according to a new poll.
In the Monmouth University poll released Monday, Carson led the Republican primary field with support from 28% of likely Republican South Carolina voters. Trump was close behind, at 27%, and no other candidates were within the margin of error.
The numbers are a shift from Monmouth’s last South Carolina poll in late August, where Trump doubled Carson, 30% to 15%.
The numbers are also a shift from the CNN/ORC poll of South Carolina Republican primary voters in October, where Trump was ahead of Carson 36% to 18%.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio continued his trend of good polling results after a strong debate performance, coming in third behind the two front-runners with 11%.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was in fourth, at 9%, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was in fifth, at 7%. No one else topped 2%.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham barely registered in his own state, pulling in 1% of GOP primary voters.
Asked about the results in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Monday, Graham said his poll numbers are “frustrating in the sense that I can’t get on the stage.”
He expressed hope that television and radio ads featuring an endorsement from Arizona Sen. John McCain will help him in the early-voting states Iowa and New Hampshire and that could help in his home state.
“I hope that will break through over time,” Graham said. “(In) South Carolina, I will break through only if I do well outside of South Carolina. I’ve got to be seen as a viable candidate outside my home state.”
Since August, Rubio’s numbers have ticked up 5 points and Cruz 4 points, while Bush has lost 2 points. Graham lost 3 points.
Trump and Carson are essentially tied, as the poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
Monmouth University Poll surveyed 401 South Carolina voters likely to vote in the Republican presidential primary from Nov. 5 to Nov. 8 for the poll.
By Tal Kopan, CNN
CNN’s Eric Bradner contributed to this report.