Less than two weeks after S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s pollster boasted of her soaring popularity, fresh data from a Democratic-leaning pollster in Raleigh, N.C. paints a vastly different picture of South Carolinians’ perceptions of their new governor.
According to data released on Thursday by Public Policy Polling, South Carolina’s first-term chief executive has a dismal 42 percent approval rating. Meanwhile 41 percent of likely voters disapprove of her performance.
If true, those are positively awful numbers for a governor who has been in office less than five months and is supposedly still enjoying a “honeymoon” period. In fact, Haley has experienced an 11-percentage point decline in popularity since February – when a previous PPP survey found that 36 percent of voters approved of her performance compared to 24 percent who disapproved and 40 percent who had yet to formulate an opinion of the new governor.
“The number of South Carolinians unhappy with (Haley) is growing at a much faster rate than ones who think she’s doing well,” the pollsters observed.
Obviously, these new numbers differ dramatically from those touted by Haley recently in an effort to get State Senators to approve her watered down government restructuring legislation. Ten days ago, Haley’s Maryland-based pollster released the results of a survey showing her with a 57.5 percent approval rating among all voters and a 74 percent approval rating among Republicans.
Given Haley’s rocky start – and her narrower-than-expected victory margin last November – her consultant’s poll was greeted with considerable skepticism by the vast majority of Palmetto politicos. After all, Haley was elected last year with only 51.3 percent of the vote – the second-lowest total of any GOP candidate on the statewide ballot.
Since taking office, Haley has stumbled through a remarkably unproductive first legislative session – despite of the low bar she set for herself.
The 39-year-old governor has just one major legislative victory to her credit – a government transparency bill – while both the lawsuit reform and government restructuring bills that she is currently pushing are watered down versions of the real reforms our state needs. State lawmakers are also getting ready to present Haley with the largest budget in state history – a $22.1 billion spending plan that she is expected to approve with only minor changes.
Fiscal conservatives are clearly displeased – particularly seeing as Haley is actively working to keep even her most modest spending cuts from being implemented.
Meanwhile, Haley has stumbled badly on a major economic development deal – trying to play both sides of the fence and ending up getting burned badly in the process. She’s also alienated voters with staff pay raises, “transparent” hypocrisy, multiple Medicaid bailouts, secret restructuring and pension fund deals as well as her tacit support of Obamacare.
And let’s not forget the numerous lies Haley has been caught telling since she was elected …
Despite all of this, there was some good news for Haley in this latest survey. She’s still leading S.C. Senator Vincent Sheheen – her 2010 opponent and the presumed Democratic frontrunner in 2014 – by a 48-42 percent margin in a head-to-head match-up.