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No joke!  Comedian Stephen Colbert is the top choice of South Carolina to replace outgoing U.S. Senator Jim DeMint in Washington, D.C. – while S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s job approval took a beating for the second straight week.

According to a Public Policy Polling survey released this week, Colbert received the support of 20 percent of Palmetto State residents – beating out U.S. Rep. Tim Scott (15 percent), U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (14 percent), former S.C. First Lady Jenny Sanford (11 percent), former Gov. Mark Sanford (8 percent), former S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster (8 percent), U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan (5 percent), U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson (5 percent) and U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (4 percent).

Eleven percent said they were not sure who should replace DeMint – who is stepping down from his Senate seat to assume the leadership of The Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

The poll also provided another disappointing report card for S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley – who will choose DeMint’s interim replacement.  According to PPP, only 42 percent of South Carolina voters approve of the job Haley is doing.  Meanwhile 49 percent of those surveyed said they disapproved of Haley’s performance as governor.  Haley’s struggles are particularly pronounced among Democrats and independents.  Only 15 percent of Democrats approve of her performance compared to 78 percent who disapprove.  Among independents, only 28 percent approve of her performance compared to 57 percent who disapprove.

That last statistic spells real trouble for Haley’s reelection bid …

“Nikki Haley could score some points with the Democrats and independent voters she’s struggling with by appointing Stephen Colbert to the US Senate,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “But if she goes down a more traditional path voters’ top choice is Tim Scott.”

PPP is a Democratic firm based in North Carolina, although its results have been extremely accurate in the Palmetto State.  In fact they mirror the results of another recent South Carolina survey.

Last week, a Winthrop University poll showed Haley’s approval rating at 38 percent among all South Carolinians – with 41 percent disapproving.  Among registered voters, the Winthrop poll had Haley’s approval rating at 40 percent with 42.4 percent disapproving.  Haley has attacked the Winthrop numbers in the past as being biased and inaccurate.

PPP surveyed 520 South Carolina voters from December 7-9.  The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.3 percent.