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 TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools 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 CruzTrump faces mounting pressure to unleash Defense Production Act Overnight Energy: House stimulus aims to stem airline pollution | Environmental measures become sticking point in Senate talks | Progressives propose T 'green stimulus' GOP blames environmental efforts, but Democrats see public health problems with stimulus MORE, who garners 19 percent support.

Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioLessons from the front line — Florida's fight with sea level rise SNAP, airlines among final hurdles to coronavirus stimulus deal Senior State Department official headed to Peru to bring home stranded Americans, Rubio says 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.