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Poll: Lindsey Graham Close to Avoiding Runoff

South Carolina Republican primary voters don’t think the country is on the right track, but they’re not yet blaming Sen. Lindsey Graham.  

The two-term incumbent, who faces a handful of GOP primary challengers, led a Winthrop University poll released Wednesday with 45 percent of the vote. Graham needs more than 50 percent of the vote in the June 10 primary to escape a runoff, but none of Graham’s challengers made it out of single-digit support, while 35 percent remained undecided.  

Graham kicked off his TV advertising campaign two weeks ago, highlighting his efforts to fight the Obama administration on health care and Benghazi.  

That plays well in a state where just 3 percent of GOP primary voters said they think the country is on the right track and 90 percent disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job. In a good sign for Graham, about a third of voters who approve of the tea party back the incumbent against his tea party-aligned opponents. Fifty-seven percent of all primary voters said they approve of the tea party movement, while just 12 percent said they are a member of it.  

Of course, his tea party support could drop as voters get to know his challengers better over the next few months. But none of them — including businesswoman Nancy Mace, businessman Richard Cash, attorney Bill Connor or state Sen. Lee Bright, who received the most support among them at 8.5 percent — have come close to keeping pace with Graham in fundraising .  

The Winthrop Poll of 901 likely GOP primary voters was taken Feb. 16-23. The margin of error was 3.2 points.  

The general election race is rated Safe Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

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