Republican Governor Nikki Haley holds a 10-point lead over Democratic challenger State Sen. Vincent Sheheen in the November elections, according to the latest Winthrop Poll released Wednesday.
The poll of 1,082 likely South Carolina voters found Haley leads Sheheen by a 43.6-33.6 margin. Poll Director Scott Huffmon said there is a sizable number of likely voters, 12.4 percent, that are still undecided. He said that means Haley still has work to do in shoring up her support to win a second term.
“With little over a month yet to go, it’s definitely not time to cruise if you are ahead,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “It’s time to shore up your support and try not to bleed out any more support.”
Huffmon noted that petition candidate Tom Ervin, an attorney and former judge, could have a slight effect on the race with 3.9 percent of the voters.
With a sizable number of voters still undecided, Sheheen’s task is to sway those undecided to support him in order to close the gap in the race. Huffmon says Sheheen was able to do that with some success in his last gubernatorial race against Haley. Huffmon said Sheheen’s efforts to link Haley with the problems at the Department of Social Services and handling of the hacking at the Department of Revenue has yet to gain traction.
“He has roughly the same amount of distance between him and Nikki Haley in 2010 and he made up over half of it in the last month of election,” Huffmon said. “We’ll see what he can do this time.”
Sheheen eventually lost to Haley in the 2010 gubernatorial election by a 51 to 47 percent margin.
Both incumbent GOP U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, have sizable leads over their Democratic challengers. Graham has 46.3 percent of the support of likely voters to State Sen. Brad Hutto’s 28 percent. Scott has a 52.4-31.8 percent lead over his challenger Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson. Huffmon said Hutto and Dickerson must benefit from any momentum Sheheen can create in the gubernatorial race.
“Brad Hutto’s support is not quite as high as Joyce Dickerson’s, but it’s close. Both of them need to make certain that all Vincent Sheheen supporters know that there are down ticket races that they should be voting in fi they are going to make it a lot closer.”
Also involved in the Graham-Hutto race is petition candidate and former state treasurer Tom Ravenel with 8 percent support. 12.2 percent are undecided in that race, as well. American Party candidate Jill Bossi has 1.8 percent in the race that features Scott and Dickerson.
Huffmon said it is interesting to note that while an overwhelming majority, 62 percent, thinks the national economy is doing poorly, they feel that the state’s economy is doing better. 52.6 percent indicated that their personal financial situation was getting better, and according to Huffmon, that bodes well for Governor Haley.
“They’re looking at South Carolina and they’re feeling a little more stable. Maybe they’re thinking it’s not as it could be and really doesn’t matter what the actual economic indicators say, if the voters feel confident in the economy then they are more likely not to turn out the person who’s been the governor.
Winthrop Poll callers surveyed 1,082 likely voters in South Carolina by landline and cell phones between Sept. 21-28. The poll has an approximately +/- 3 percent margin of error.