Republican Mark Sanford and Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch are running neck and neck in the special election to fill the House seat vacated by recently appointed Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), according to the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.
Among likely voters in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District, Sanford, the former governor, would win 45 percent, and Colbert Busch, a Clemson University official and the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, would win 47 percent.
The district leans Republican: President Barack Obama's approval rating there is just 41 percent, and half of voters identified themselves as conservative. But, as PPP notes, the relatively high profiles of both candidates could factor in. Nearly 60 percent of likely voters view Sanford unfavorably, while only 31 percent view Colbert Busch negatively.
Colbert Busch went on air with her first ad earlier this month, highlighting her business experience. Sanford released his first ad in February, addressing the scandal that led to his resignation as governor.
Before the May general election, Sanford faces a GOP runoff on April 2 against former local lawmaker Curtis Bostic, whom he beat 53 percent to 40 percent in the PPP poll. In the same survey, Bostic tied Colbert Busch at 43 percent each.
PPP used automated phone calls to survey 1,175 likely voters, including 648 Republicans, between March 22 and 24.