Could the Republican Party finally have a new front-runner? Polls earlier this week ahead of Saturday's GOP primary in South Carolina could not pinpoint who was on top and showed current front-runner Donald Trump’s lead slipping.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll Friday estimated Trump had 28 percent support, down from 36 percent in January. Following Trump was Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 23 percent, up from 20. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio garnered 15 percent.
However, other polls had percentages wavering for Cruz, Rubio and Trump, with none of them clearly coming out on top as the primary neared.
A big showing from either Cruz or Rubio supporters could boost that candidate to the top. In the New Hampshire primary earlier this month, Trump took the lead and was followed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Kasich and Ben Carson were tied at 9 percent in the Marist poll.
The candidates seem well aware of the pull of undecided voters. Rubio retweeted a South Carolina voter who endorsed him Saturday morning.
— Reid C. Hopkins (@reidhopkins) February 20, 2016
Cruz may get a bump from evangelical voters, whom he has been courting at rallies and also targeting with robocalls. “If those people go out and multiply [on Saturday], this Cruz thing is for real,” Walter Whetsell, a GOP strategist in South Carolina who is unaffiliated with the current campaigns, told the Hill.
Phil Robertson, a reality TV star from “Duck Dynasty,” has been campaigning for Cruz in South Carolina and speaking at his rallies. Robertson had said homosexual behavior was sinful in an interview with GQ magazine in 2013.
Trump is using his own celebrity fame to push for votes. Saturday morning Trump took to Twitter to push #VoteTrump and included direct attacks at Cruz and Rubio.
Lying #Ted Cruz just (on election day) came out with a sneak and sleazy Robocall. He holds up the Bible but in fact is a true lowlife pol!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2016