COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A poll released by Public Policy Polling suggests Nikki Haley hasn't suffered any damage after accusations of multiple extramarital affairs and is headed for an easy first place finish in Tuesday's Republican primary for Governor of South Carolina.
According to the poll, Haley has a 20 point lead, getting 43% of the vote. Gresham Barrett looks like the favorite for the second runoff spot. He's at 23%, followed by Henry McMaster at 16%, and Andre Bauer at 12%.
Two weeks ago, in the same poll, Haley held a 21 point lead in the race. Since then she's gained 4 points, Barrett's standing has improved by 7, McMaster's has dropped by a couple points, and Bauer's gone down a single point.
Only 13% of voters believe the allegations about Haley's marital infidelity. 54% flat out do not believe them and 33% are unsure. Haley will, however, be in trouble with voters if they ever are proven. In that case 42% think she should drop out of the race.
At +35 (58/23) Haley's favorability is nearly identical to its +34 standing from two weeks ago. Barrett has seen a large gain on that front over the last two weeks from +10 to +25 (44/19). McMaster and Bauer aren't making any progress on that front. The attorney general has dropped from +21 to +17 (45/28). The lieutenant governor continues to be highly unpopular even with his own party's voters. He's at -23 (29/52), the same as his standing a couple weeks ago.
The poll suggests a runoff between Haley and Barrett appears to be the most likely outcome. Barrett narrows the gap in such a contest because supporters of McMaster and Bauer say they would support him 45-30 over Haley in a head to head. Nevertheless Haley still leads Barrett 51-35 overall.
Haley's support is pretty universal. She gets 43% with both moderates and conservatives, 45% in the Low Country, 44% in the Midlands, and 40% in the Upstate. At this point the chances of her winning an outright majority and avoiding a runoff appear to be better than the ones of her not finishing first.