South Carolina state Rep. Nikki Haley
shows no sign of suffering any damage from allegations that she has had extramarital affairs
, with a new poll showing she continues to hold a 20 point lead in her bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. A majority of voters say they don't believe the accusations of infidelity.
Going into Tuesday's primary, Haley runs ahead of the Republican field with 43 percent followed by Rep. Gresham Barrett
at 23 percent, Attorney General Henry McMaster
at 16 percent, and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer
at 12 percent, with 7 percent undecided, according to a Public Policy Polling survey
conducted June 5-6.
Haley has gained four points in her level of support since PPP's poll two weeks ago when she held a similar advantage over her nearest rival.
She is seen favorably by 58 percent of likely voters and unfavorably by 23 percent, with 19 percent undecided. The 35 point spread in her favor is about the same as it was in the last poll.
Last week, a state lobbyist who had resigned from Bauer's campaign claimed he had a tryst with Haley in 2008. It was the second such allegation, following one by a former aide to Gov. Mark Sanford who said he had physical relations with Haley in 2007. Haley vigorously denied both accusations.
Fifty-four percent of voters do not believe she has had extramarital affairs while 13 percent do, with 33 percent undecided.
"Nikki Haley's in good shape," said PPP's Dean Debnam. "Her campaign has deflected the allegations against her well and so far she hasn't suffered any political damage in the wake of them."
The question for Haley is whether she can get to the 50 percent she needs to avoid a runoff. If there is one, Barrett appears to be the candidate with the second place momentum, picking up 7 points of support since the last poll.
If there was a Haley-Barrett runoff, 51 percent of voters said they'd support Haley while 35 percent would back Barrett, with 14 percent undecided. Haley would have a 54 percent to 35 percent advantage over McMaster, with 12 percent undecided, and a 62 percent to 26 percent margin over Bauer, with 12 percent undecided.
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