Vote Sign, Aiken Absentee (copy) (copy)

South Carolina's Democratic presidential primary is this Saturday, Feb. 29.

A majority of South Carolina and Georgia residents in two recent polls said it was critical for 2020 presidential candidates to lay out their views on nuclear weapons, a topic that rarely makes it onto the debate stage and campaign websites.

More than half – 54%, exactly – of the respondents from both states believe it is "very important" that candidates disclose their nuke platform; 29% in South Carolina and 32% in Georgia believe it is "somewhat important." Less than 4% of those surveyed in both states said it was "not at all important."

Both polls were conducted by Zogby Analytics, and each comprises interviews with more than 600 adults. The margin for error on both is 4%.

"A presidential debate is a job interview for the next commander in chief," said physicist David Wright, the co-director of the Union of Concerned Scientists global security program. "Voters need to know what a candidate would do about nuclear weapons policy if he or she winds up in the White House."

The Union of Concerned Scientists sponsored the polls. The national nonprofit focuses on climate change, nuclear war, public science, and racial and economic equity.

Stephen Young, a Washington representative for the same global security program, said the polls have been successful in raising awareness of such an important issue: nuclear weapons and their public perception.

South Carolina is home to the Savannah River Site, a south-of-Aiken installation that, in the past, produced tritium and plutonium for national defense endeavors and is now poised to produce a stream of plutonium pits, more commonly known as nuclear weapon cores or triggers. The site still produces tritium, a radioactive hydrogen isotope that boosts nuclear weapon efficiency and yield.

The Democratic presidential primary in South Carolina, recognized as the first in the South, is Feb. 29. Polls will be open statewide 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

CBS News is hosting a Democratic debate in Charleston on Tuesday night. 

Eight Democrats and two Republicans, including President Donald Trump, are in the running for the White House.

Trump's latest budget blueprint, fiscal year 2021, included $19.8 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration, $15.6 billion of which is for nuclear weapons programs.

Colin Demarest covers the Savannah River Site, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration and government in general. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin