A new poll released Tuesday shows incumbent Republican Gov. Nikki Haley still holds a double-digit lead over Democratic challenger State Sen. Vincent Sheheen in a head-to-head matchup with potential voters. But that lead drops to the poll’s margin of error once two additional “third party” candidates are included.
The Palmetto Politics Poll released Tuesday was commissioned by the Post & Courier and WCIV-TV out of Charleston, WACH-TV in Columbia, and WYFF-TV in Greenville. Researchers asked 1,000 potential voters who they would support if no other candidates other than Haley and Sheheen were in the race. About 53 percent supported the incumbent governor versus 40 percent for Sheheen.
But once the smaller campaigns of Libertarian Party nominee Steve French and independent candidate Tom Ervin are included in the question, Haley’s support drops to 46 percent among 650 likely voters. Sheheen trails by only four points at 42 percent (within the poll’s 4 percent margin of error), with Ervin collecting 3 percent and French 2 percent of the remainder. Among respondents, 6 percent were undecided.
The poll was conducted by the Pennsylvania firm Susquehanna Polling and Research.
However, Susquehanna president director Jim Lee told the Post & Courier that several factors suggest Haley is still the favorite to win. He said the poll found South Carolina voters pegged the economy and health care as the state’s top issues, with education a close third. He said that would likely make it difficult for Sheheen to rally voters around a single issue.
The poll found Gov. Haley had a 48 percent approval rating, while 41 percent of respondents disapproved and another 11 percent were undecided.