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Memo – 12/11/11

To: Members of the Media

From: Tyler Jones, SC Democratic Consultant

Re: New Nikki Haley Poll Numbers

Much attention has been given to the high-profile political endorsements that are still up for grabs by the 2012 Presidential Candidates. On almost every list, beside Senator Jim DeMint, Gov. Sarah Palin, and now Herman Cain, you have South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Once a rising Tea Party superstar, the first female (and minority) Governor of the Palmetto State, Nikki Haley has had a disastrous first year in office. She’s been plagued by both personal and professional scandals, that have been equally criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike. Until now, polling has shown that voters were mixed on the first term Governor, with her approval/disapproval numbers being relatively the same. But a poll released today shows that Governor Haley is among the nation’s most unpopular governors.

Winthrop University’s latest poll (Source: http://www.thestate.com/2011/12/11/2076002/sc-voters-souring-on-governor.html) shows that only 34% of SC voters approve of Governor Haley’s job performance, while 44% disapprove. To make matters worse, only 52% of SC Republicans support Governor Haley, a 17-point drop in just three months. Her approval ratings are ten points lower than that of Democratic President Barack Obama. (Source: http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/11/9365498-gingrich-opens-up-big-leads-in-south-carolina-and-florida)

Haley’s numbers are currently worse than neighboring Governor, Democrat Bev Perdue of North Carolina (37%), who is widely considered an underdog in next year’s re-election race against former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory.

(Source: http://www.politico.com/blogs/davidcatanese/1211/Post_indictments_Perdue_down_by_10_.html)

Haley’s approval rating (34%) is actually very much similar to that of the nation’s most unpopular Governor’s, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (38%) and Florida Gov. Rick Scott (33%). (Source: http://htpolitics.com/2011/12/08/scotts-approval-rating-drops-in-new-poll/)

This is sure to be an issue over the next couple of months as the Republican Presidential candidates vie for Governor Haley’s endorsement, which she has promised to announce before the South Carolina primary. But how much influence does she really hold if only half of the members of her own party approve of her job performance? Could her endorsement actually end up hurting a candidate? Haley’s current numbers suggest it could.

Jones released the following statement on Haley’s poll numbers:

“It is no surprise that South Carolinians are starting to turn on Nikki Haley. She is an overly ambitious, headline-seeking, corrupt politician who thinks the voters of this state are too naive to see that every thing she touches turn into a scandal. She literally cannot go one week without screwing something up. If I’m Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich, I’m telling Nikki Haley to stay the hell away from my campaign, before she destroys that, too.”

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Tyler Jones is a Democratic political consultant based in Charleston, South Carolina. He has served as the Executive Director of the South Carolina House Democratic Caucus, as well as the co-founder of SC Forward Progress. In 2007, he worked for Senator John Edwards’ Presidential campaign in South Carolina.

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