A month ago, Public Policy Polling (PPP) released the results of a survey showing incumbent “Republican” Nikki Haley in a dogfight with S.C. Sen. Vincent Sheheen.

According to PPP – which has been remarkable accurate in recent Palmetto State races – Haley led Sheheen by a 39-36 margin among voters who had made up their minds.  All told, Haley led Sheheen by a 49-46 percent margin.

This week, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier  and a trio of television stations commissioned a new poll on the governor’s race that shows a dramatically different lay of the land … at least on the surface.

According to The Post and Courier  poll, Haley is up on Sheheen by a whopping 13 percentage points in a head-to-head race – 53-40 percent (with seven percent undecided).  That’s good news for the governor.  Very good news.

The bad news?  When the pollsters open the race up to a four-way competition – adding the names of “Independent Republican” Tom Ervin and Libertarian nominee Steve French to the mix – Haley’s lead evaporates.

In that race, Sheheen is well within striking distance – trailing Haley by only four points, 46-42 percent.

“Going under fifty percent when alternatives are presented is bad news for her,” one national pollster told FITS.

The four-way ballot question was posed to 650 likely voters – and its results have a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points, the Post and Courier  reported.  The head-to-head ballot question was posed to 1,000 “potential voters.”

Ervin has vowed to spend big bucks on his candidacy – which kicked off this summer with a successful petition drive to get his name on the ballot.  French’s campaign has spent just $9,000 – but a spokesman says the Lowcountry businessman is beginning an aggressive fundraising push.

If either of those candidates gains traction, Haley could be in real trouble come November …