Trump extends lead in SC in Monmouth poll
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Just days before the Feb. 20 primary, Republican front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump returns to White House after first trip abroad White House: Trump trip left no doubt 'who America’s friends are' Trump 'willing to deal well' with France, says Macron MORE holds a commanding lead in South Carolina, according to a new poll.

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Trump leads the GOP field, with 35 percent support, according to the Monmouth University poll, nearly doubling that of his nearest competitor, Ted CruzTed CruzFranken explains why he made an exception to diss Cruz in his book FEC faults Cruz on Goldman Sachs loans in rare unanimous vote CBO score underlines GOP tensions on ObamaCare repeal MORE, who garners 19 percent support.

Marco RubioMarco RubioSenate panel could pass new Russia sanctions this summer McConnell on Trump: 'We could do with a little less drama' Taking the easy layup: Why brain cancer patients depend on it MORE places third, with 17 percent support, followed by John Kasich, with 9 percent support, Jeb Bush, with 8 percent, and Ben Carson, with 7 percent.

Trump is up 8 points since a November iteration of the poll, while Cruz is up 10 points from that same span. Rubio is up 6 points.

Although Trump has expanded upon his lead, his favorability numbers among Republicans have dropped.

He is now seen favorably by 50 percent of Republicans, down from 58 percent in November, and unfavorably by 41 percent, up from 29 percent in the fall.

But strong anti-establishment sentiment appears to be driving the billionaire businessman’s popularity in the Palmetto State.

Fifty-four percent of respondents said they would prefer someone with no governmental experience, compared to 33 percent who favored a public servant.

“The overwhelmingly negative feelings of South Carolina Republicans toward the political establishment have helped Trump build upon the support he enjoyed since summer,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Only 42 percent of voters said they are completely decided on which candidate to support before the Feb. 20 primary. But 57 percent of those backing Trump said they are locked in on the real-estate mogul.

The Monmouth University poll surveyed 400 likely Republican voters Feb. 14–16 and had a margin of error of 4.9 percent.