Comedian Stephen Colbert is South Carolinians’ top choice to replace resigning Sen. Jim DeMint, followed closely by Republican Rep. Tim Scott, according to a poll released Monday.
DeMint announced last week that he would resign from the Senate in January to lead the Heritage Foundation. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will appoint a successor to fill out the remainder of his term, and a special election for the seat will be held in 2014.
According to a Public Policy Polling poll released Monday, 20 percent of South Carolinians would like Haley to appoint Colbert. Fifteen percent say they would like her to appoint Scott, who’s name has been oft mentioned by conservatives since DeMint announced his resignation. Another fourteen percent said they would like to see Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy appointed to the seat, and 11 percent said they preferred Jenny Sanford, the ex-wife of former Gov. Mark Sanford. Just 8 percent of South Carolinians said they would like her ex-husband for the post.
Colbert’s good poll numbers come in spite of his slightly negative favorability in the state, with 30 percent of South Carolinians saying they hold a favorable opinion of him, and 32 percent saying they hold an unfavorable opinion of him. Thirty-eight percent say they are unsure.
Thirty-three percent of South Carolinians have a favorable view of Scott, while 24 percent do not and 43 percent are unsure. Jenny Sanford has the best favorability rating of the potential appointees, with 44 percent rating her favorably, 25 percent unfavorable, and 31 percent unsure.
Haley jokingly rebuffed Colbert’s (presumably unserious) interest in the seat in a Facebook post last week, when she noted that he doesn’t “know our state drink. Big, big mistake.” If that takes Colbert out of the running, Jenny Sanford and Scott are the favorites, with 17 percent saying they would like Sanford and 16 percent saying they would prefer Scott.
The poll surveyed 520 South Carolina voters from December 7 through December 9, the weekend following DeMint’s announcement. 54 percent described themselves as “conservative” or “very conservative;” 24 percent as “moderate;” and 22 percent as “liberal” or “very liberal.” The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.