Originally created 10/04/04

Poll shows strong lead for DeMint



CHARLESTON, S.C. - An independent media survey shows that Republican Jim DeMint is the overwhelming favorite in South Carolina's U.S. Senate race.

Half of the 625 registered voters surveyed said they would vote for the three-term congressman from the Upstate. Democratic challenger Inez Tenenbaum got just 38 percent of the survey vote.

The results show the Republican Party may be too strong in South Carolina for even a popular Democrat such as Mrs. Tenenbaum to win the race, said pollster Brad Coker, of Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc.

"Being a Republican in South Carolina is a big advantage over being a Democrat these days," Mr. Coker said. "It's hard for a Democrat to get traction. But there's still time, so we'll see what happens. Mr. DeMint is going to have to make a mistake."

The results of the poll conducted for The (Charleston) Post and Courier are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 27-29. All the respondents said they were likely to vote in the November general election, and blacks made up 26 percent of respondents.

The overall margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Mrs. Tenenbaum contends that the race is far from over and that there is plenty of time to sway opinions.

"People underestimate how independent South Carolinians are," she said. "They are a very independent people."

However, the poll's results show Mr. DeMint's support is widespread across the state. His home area in the conservative Upstate showed especially strong support. He also had support around Charleston and the coast, where voters are still conservative but tend to be more moderate.

Particularly troubling to Mrs. Tenenbaum should be Mr. DeMint's lead in Columbia and Florence - the two strongholds of state Democrats - and his lead among women - 46 percent to 41 percent - according to the poll.

Mrs. Tenenbaum has been attacking Mr. DeMint's support of a plan to scrap the U.S. income tax system in favor of a 23 percent federal sales tax.

Mr. DeMint has begun attacking what he calls classroom deficiencies during her six years as education superintendent.