The latest on the presidential horse race.

Poll: Surprise New Frontrunner in Key South Carolina Republican Primary

Gravis Marketing, 3/6-3/7
South Carolina

  • Bush: 22
  • Huckabee: 19
  • Christie: 12
  • Paul: 8
  • Cruz: 8
  • Rubio: 6
  • Walker: 5
  • Santorum: 2

A new Gravis Marketing poll has found that Jeb Bush has emerged as the new leader in the highly vital South Carolina Republican Primary following Chris Christie’s fall from first place in light of his Bridgegate scandal. South Carolina is a critically important primary as it’s just the third state to vote for a nominee, right after Iowa and New Hampshire open up primary season.

The poll, conducted between March 6 and March 7, sampling 735 registered South Carolina voters, found that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has jumped out to a surprising lead in the state’s primary with 22 percent of the vote. Bush had finished a close second in the last poll, conducted in December, with 16 percent of the vote.

Former Arkansas Mike Huckabee, who had finished third in the December poll, is right on Bush’s heels with 19 percent of the vote. In the last poll, the Fox News host had received 15.8 percent of the vote.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who led in South Carolina to close out 2013, finds himself sliding down to third place with just 12 percent of the vote. In December, prior to the Bridgegate scandal emerging, Christie led with 16.6 percent.

The two Tea Party favorites, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, finished in a fourth place tie, receiving 8 percent apiece. It’s not much of a drop-off for Paul who received 9.7 percent in December but it’s a significant slide for Cruz who finished with 11.1 percent in the last poll.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio finished with 6 percent, right where he’s been in most polls nationwide. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker received 5 percent, a decent bump from 2.3 in December but hardly enough to make him relevant, especially considering the absence of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan from the poll. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum received just 2 percent, the same as he did in 2013.

Nineteen percent of South Carolina’s voters remain undecided, however, so the race is still anyone’s game.

(Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore)