The Republican primary race in South Carolina, which will culminate with voting Saturday, is much tighter than previously thought, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll.
The survey, which was released Friday morning, shows that only a handful of points separate front-runner Donald Trump from second-place candidate Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. According to the poll, Trump has 28 percent of support in the Palmetto State while Cruz has 23 percent.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio placed third in the poll with 15 percent of support. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who needs a strong showing in South Carolina, received 13 percent. Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson tied for fifth-place, each receiving 9 percent.
Friday's poll is very similar to a national survey released by NBC News/WSJ on Wednesday. While most other national polls show Trump with an overwhelming lead, it showed that the race was potentially within the margin of error — with Cruz in command.
However, the RealClearPolitics average for the GOP candidates' support in South Carolina still gives Trump the edge going into Saturday's primary, 32.9 percent to Cruz's 18.1 percent.
The NBC/WSJ/Marist survey of 722 Republican likely primary voters was conducted after Saturday's South Carolina GOP debate. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points.
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