The InsiderAdvantage poll, out Friday, shows that 49.5 percent of voters say it is time for Sanford to go, while 36.6 percent said the embattled governor should remain in office.
Sanford is actually in a weaker position now than he was in the same poll shortly after he admitted in June to an affair with an Argentine woman, when 49.8 percent of South Carolinians thought the governor should stay, while 41.4 percent said he should resign.
“[Sanford] has really sustained a lot of damage,” said Matt Towery, CEO of InsiderAdvantage. “It’s devastating to him.”
Voters were strongly split down party lines over whether Sanford should resign in June, but the latest poll showed less of a divide in public opinion.
Sixty-three percent of Democrats in the state favor the governor resigning while just 21 percent think he should stay. Independents. too, favor Sanford stepping down by 47.8 percent to 38.4 percent.
Less than half of the Republicans surveyed, 47.1 percent, support Sanford staying in office, while the number who think he should resign has jumped 10 percentage points from June, to 40.7 percent from 30.9 percent.
For the second straight day, Sanford spoke with reporters on Thursday to defend himself from mounting calls from Republican elected officials for him to step down.
Sanford held a press conference Thursday in Greenville, South Carolina across the street from the law office of GOP state Sen. David Thomas, who is currently investigating Sanford’s allegedly improper use of state aircraft for personal and political reasons.
Sanford insisted that Thomas’ probe is not a “serious investigation” and accused his critics of showing “selective outrage” for not going after past governors and other state lawmakers for their use of state aircraft.
In response, Thomas told local reporters that Sanford’s visit was “very odd,” and criticized Sanford for engaging in a political “soap opera.”
Republican Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer called on Sanford to resign Wednesday.
Bauer, who would become governor in Sanford stepped down, said he was not seeking political advantage, and that he would not run for a new term if tapped to fill the current one.
Sanford rejected Bauer’s offer, responding in a press conference and letter to the lieutenant governor.
The state’s House Republican caucus is getting together this weekend for its annual retreat in Myrtle Beach. According to numerous sources, the assembled Republican lawmakers will be gauging support within their ranks for moving forward with impeachment proceedings against the governor.
The automated survey of 917 registered voters was conducted Thursday.