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NEW SURVEY SHOWS SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR STILL FACES CHALLENGES TO REELECTION

Nikki Haley’s reelection as governor of South Carolina is a foregone conclusion … right?

Right.  That’s what all the national press says, anyway …

But is it?  Even before Haley has to deal with the self-styled “independent Republican” candidacy of Upstate attorney Tom Ervin – or the libertarian bid of good-looking, sharp-shooting Steve French – she remains in a surprisingly competitive head-to-head race against S.C. Sen. Vincent Sheheen.

At least that’s the takeaway from a new Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey – the results of which were obtained exclusively by FITS.

According to PPP, “Haley is polling at 39 percent to 36 percent for Sheheen among voters who say they’ve made up their mind for this fall.  Each candidate also receives another 10 percent of support from voters who say they may still change their minds between now and November, for a total breakdown of 49-46 percent.”

Wait … what ?

Sheheen has run an abysmal race … and Haley and her allies have been puffing her up and pounding away at him with negative television advertisements.  In fact, an estimated $3.1 million has already been spent on pro-Haley or anti-Sheheen television.

Is this poll really to be believed?

That’s a good question … it certainly seems as though Haley has managed to rehabilitate herself with voters after a disastrous first two years in office, as evidenced by the steady rise of her approval rating in other polling.  Although in fairness to PPP – a North Carolina-based Democratic firm – they have had a remarkably accurate track record when it comes to predicting recent South Carolina elections.

PPP tested a few messages in the poll – including one about the recent spate of GOP scandals in South Carolina.

According to its findings, 55 percent of voters believe the Republican Party’s complete control of state government is “helping to create a culture of corruption,” whereas 42 percent disagree with that contention.

That’s interesting … especially in light of Haley’s recent efforts to push a badly flawed “ethics” bill.

The real danger to Haley (at least as far as we see it)?  Her badly exposed right flank – which has been left wide open by her fiscal liberalism on any number of fronts.  Haley has been advancing a fiscally liberal agenda on taxesspendingeducation and (most notably) government-subsidized health care – and if Ervin and French can cut into her base of GOP support on any of those issues, watch out.

We could witness a Charlie Crist-style implosion …

Not so, one independent pollster told FITS – referring to the PPP numbers as “total and complete bullshit.”

For those of you keeping score at home, PPP surveyed 698 registered voters in South Carolina from June 20-22.  The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percent.

JUNE 2014 PPP POLL (.pdf)