Trump leads the GOP pack by 16 percentage points, with 38 percent of likely voters saying they would support him if the South Carolina primary were held today. Trump has retained this lead since the last CNN/ORC poll was released on Oct. 14.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders by almost 20 percentage points, 56-38 percent. In the last South Carolina poll, released Oct. 12, she was leading the Vermont Senator 70-20 percent when excluding Vice President Joe Biden, but that poll factored in Vice President Joe Biden, who was mulling a run at the time.
The GOP South Carolina primary is this Saturday, while the Democrats hold theirs on the 27th. Other than the fact that there are two clear frontrunners, here are 7 takeaways:
1. Hillary Clinton Hangs Onto Nonwhite Voters -- But Their Support Is Shaky Hillary Clinton is maintaining her broad lead among nonwhites in this new poll -- 63-29, compared to the 56-26-6 percent of nonwhites in October when Biden was still in the race. Still, only 34 percent of blacks say they have made up their minds, compared to a broader 57 percent of whites. Women, another core Clinton group, are also slower to make a final commitment: 42 percent say they have made firm commitment.
2. A Tale Of Two Races: The Democratic Party's Racial Divide Clinton's strength on certain questions has actually gotten stronger among nonwhites since October when Biden was still in the race. On the economy, she's +45 now (70-25 percent) compared to +23 then (51-28-6 percent). The same trends show across the board: healthcare, race relations, the candidate who best represents values of Democrats and best chance to win in November show her running up the score compared to October.
But among whites, majorities instead choose Sanders as best on economy (58-35 percent), guns (58-35 percent), best representing values of Democrats like you (63-33 percent) and helping the middle class (66-29 percent). Clinton wins only on foreign policy (63-34 percent) and best chance to win in November (58-38 percent). Clinton and Sanders run even among whites on race relations (45-45 percent).
3. Don't Count Your Chickens: The South Carolina Race Is Still Fluid Majorities in each party say they have not completely decided who they're going to vote for. Some 49 percent of Republicans say they are definitely decided, with 20 percent leaning toward a candidate and 31 percent still making up their minds. Democrats are slightly less decided -- but they have more time with Nevada in between. Some 43 percent of Democrats say they are definitely decided, with 16 percent leaning toward a candidate and 40 percent still making up their minds.
4. Hillary Clinton Rallies The Base: Women, Nonwhites and People Over 50. Hillary Clinton still has her base in South Carolina. Women opt for her by 27 points (60-33 percent), people over the age of 50 by 30 points (65-25 percent) and blacks by 37 points (65-28 percent). These groups were crucial to carrying her to a slim win in Iowa and the support that she maintained in her New Hampshire loss.
5. Evangelicals Pick A Different Horse: We're Not In Iowa Anymore Evangelicals in Iowa went for Cruz by 12 points -- but not in South Carolina. Trump leads among Palmetto State evangelicals, by an almost a 2-to-1 margin. Trump garnered the support of more than four in 10 (42 percent) evangelicals, compared to Cruz at 23 percent, Rubio with 14 percent and Bush with 9 percent.
6. Did The George W. Bush Debate Attacks Hurt Trump? This poll isn't conclusive. Trump sat at 40 percent support in interviews conducted before the debate, versus 31 percent in interviews after the debate. This difference is within the margin of error and not statistically significant -- as well as enough to keep Trump in first place even after the debate. Post-debate polling shows increases in support by Carson and Kasich, with no increase at all from Rubio, Bush or Cruz.
7. Donald Trump Earns Support From Republican Groups Across The Board There's no gender gap here: Trump's leading support comes from 38 percent of men as well as 38 percent of women. He takes 40 percent of whites in the state, 41 percent of those over 65 years old and 36 percent of conservatives -- all close to his overall support regardless of group. The data shows a slight difference by education, which we've seen all along: 34 percent with a college degree back him.