Trump extends lead in SC in Monmouth poll
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Just days before the Feb. 20 primary, Republican front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pens op-ed on kindergartners learning tech Bharara, Yates tamp down expectations Mueller will bring criminal charges Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open 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 CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong This week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Week ahead: Senators work toward deal to fix ObamaCare markets MORE, who garners 19 percent support.

Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Tillerson, Trump deny report of rift | Tillerson says he never considered resigning | Trump expresses 'total confidence' in secretary | Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers 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.