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Pay no attention to those God-awful poll numbers splashed all over the front page of every major newspaper in the state … S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley isn’t really that unpopular.

That’s the message coming out of the South Carolina Republican Party, anyway.

Despite the bad blood that exists between them, the SCGOP is defending Haley in the wake of a Winthrop poll showing her approval rating at an anemic 34.6 percent. That’s down nearly five points from a September poll that showed Haley’s approval rating at 41 percent.

Both numbers are atrocious for a first-year executive – but according to a SCGOP strategy memo obtained by FITS, the Winthrop poll is biased and inaccurate.

“Governor Haley is doing an extraordinary job in bringing new businesses to South Carolina,” the GOP memo states. “Bridgestone, Continental, and other major companies are now bringing tens of thousands of new jobs to South Carolina. But those jobs are not in place yet, so the tough economy reflects (sometimes unfairly) on every political leader. South Carolina will come roaring back in the next couple of years because Governor Haley is helping to recruit jobs at a record pace.”

Specifically, the SCGOP points to the fact that the poll surveyed roughly the same number of Democrats as Republicans – despite the fact that there are more Republican than Democratic voters in South Carolina.

That’s a valid point – although it’s not immediately clear how much of a bump that would give the embattled first year chief executive, whose flailing administration continues to bounce from scandal to scandal.

After all, the poll found that Haley’s approval rating among Republicans was only 52.5 percent – which makes her 2012 presidential endorsement substantially less important than the national pundits have long suggested it would be.

We think Haley’s actual approval rating is probably closer to 40 percent – although that’s still incredibly weak. We’re also guessing that if there were some sort of intensity measure attached, the number of voters who “strongly disapprove” of the job she is doing would far outnumber those who “strongly approve.”