CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The first Presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is just under a week away and it is a tight race among likely voters.
Following the Democratic National Convention, Clinton had received a huge bump both nationally and locally.
Our solidly red state turned a lighter hue just a few weeks ago, but that momentum is gone. The latest polls show Trump up by as much as 15 points in South Carolina, after his lead had dropped to low single digits immediately after the convention.
Coastal Carolina University political scientist Holley Tankersley said polls show young voters have cooled on Clinton in recent weeks; and she would need a huge turnout of millennials to have any chance at challenging Trump in the Palmetto state.
Tankersley said the recent bombings in New York and New Jersey may have swayed voters who are concerned with national security.
Questions over Secretary Clinton’s health could be another reason Trump has regained a comfortable lead.
“Particularly the fear that you know, she might not be healthy enough to do the job or the fact that they didn’t tell people right away that she had pneumonia, that certainly could explain the decline in polls in this state,” said Tankersley.
Historically polls begin to reflect how people will actually vote starting just after Labor Day.
“I think what we’ll really see is polls start to harden and solidify after the first debate and even more so after the second debate when voters really get a substantive look at these candidates,” said Tankersley.
Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson have not received enough support to be invited on the debate stage.
Both are polling lower in South Carolina than nationally, Tankersley said demographics here show neither of the third-party candidates have a strong enough base of support to make up much ground.
Even if the third-party candidates did gain in the polls, it could benefit Trump more than Clinton.
“You are seeing in some states the Libertarian candidate in particular, Gary Johnson, kind of eating into the millennial vote that normally would go to the Democratic Party,” said Tankersley.
The first debate is Monday at 9:00 pm. Count on News13 to keep you covered on Campaign 2016 as we get closer to Election Day.
You have until October 8th to register to vote.