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While she continues to be touted by the national political press as a “rising star” – not to mention a potential presidential candidate in the current election cycle – a policy-oriented magazine says S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley is “struggling.”

In fact, Governing Magazine lists Haley as one of seven first-termĀ  U.S. governors who falls into its lowest performance category.

First, here’s the magazine’s excerpt on Haley:

Haley attracted national attention when she won the governorship with the backing of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. But despite a strong Republican lean in the state, Haley only won by a 51 percent to 47 percent margin over Democrat Vincent Sheheen. Her approval ratings went as high as the 60s, but by late 2011, a Winthrop University poll had her at 35 percent, and an even weak 53 percent among Republicans. Observers attribute her poor ratings primarily to the state’s economy, which is one of the weakest in the nation. Haley cites $5 billion of business investment and 20,000 jobs on her watch, but her numbers aren’t likely to rebound until the economic situation shows greater improvement.

South Carolina’s economic situation also isn’t likely to show “greater improvement” as long as Haley is giving away the farm to neighboring states …

Anyway, joining Haley on the “struggling” list? Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), Jerry Brown (D-California), Lincoln Chafee (I-Rhode Island), John Kasich (R-Ohio), Rick Scott (R-Florida) and Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin).

“To gauge these governors’ performances, I reached out to several dozen experts in the states in question and looked at news coverage of their tenure,” Governing reporter Louis Jacobsen writes. “I considered gubernatorial performance from two perspectives — how popular the governor is and how much of their agenda was enacted. I then assigned governors into one of four categories — those who seemed to be doing very well, those who seemed to be doing well, those who seemed to be having mixed results and those who appeared to be struggling.”

Haley is all but assured of having credible Republican opposition in the event she runs for reelection in 2014. In fact, FITS is publishing a post this week delving into her possible opponents.