Tue, 22 Jul 2014 22:12:41 GMT -- COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - Voters don't head back to the polls until November to cast their ballots for South Carolina governor, but if the election were held today new numbers indicate Governor Nikki Haley would win a second term in office.
Palmetto Politics Poll data from 1,000 likely South Carolina voters shows Haley would once again edge democratic Senator Vincent Sheheen just like she did in 2010's history-making election.
The poll conducted by Voter Survey Service in conjuction with WACH, WCIV, WYFF and the Charleston Post and Courier shows that if the election were held today Governor Haley would take 53 percent of the vote to Vincent Sheheen's 40 percent.
That margin shrinks to a four percent edge when independent candidate Tom Ervin and libertarian Steve French were also included as choices for potential voters.
"Unless there's a game-changer in this race and they continue along this basic trajectory that they're on, I'd have to say she's in pretty good shape for a second term," said GOP strategist Joel Sawyer.
South Carolina's political history also plays in Haley's favor. South Carolina voters haven't elected a Democrat in a statewide election since 2006.
Still, Democrats point to Governor Haley's approval rating, which our poll registered at 48 percent, as a problem for the incumbent.
"It says to me there are a lot of people in this state who are not happy with the job Nikki Haley has done over the course of the last three and a half years," said SC Democratic party chair Jaime Harrison. "They're looking for some alternative and looking for a change and I believe Vincent Sheheen is going to be that change."
The possible wild card in the election comes from candidates Ervin and French, who are projected to take a combined five percent of the vote. A similar situation happened in 2010 when third-party hopeful Morgan Reeves took roughly the same percentage leading to a slim margin of victory for Governor Haley.
"Can he (Ervin) position himself in such a way to take votes away from Nikki Haley versus take votes away from Vincent Sheheen," said Sawyer. "The reality is that the average voter is not paying a whole lot of attention yet. They're reading the paper, they're watching the television news, but they're not really quite there in terms of making a decision.
So with the 2014 election setup relatively the same as 2010, and the key issues also similar, healthcare and jobs top our poll, fall 2014 is feeling a lot like 2010 all over again.