Poll: Haley leads in governor race

State Rep. Nikki Haley

Columbia -- A new South Carolina governor's poll says a one-time Republican long shot is the front-runner in the four-candidate GOP field.

State Rep. Nikki Haley, R-Lexington, holds an 11 percentage-point lead over her closest competitor, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey of more than 900 likely Republican primary voters conducted Monday.

The poll follows Haley's endorsement last week by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and a round of campaigning with former S.C. first lady Jenny Sanford. It comes just under three weeks from the primary vote.

Haley's rivals, U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett of Westminster, S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster of Columbia and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer of Greenville, did not dispute the poll results. But they said trends are working in their favor.

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According to the poll, Haley led with 30 percent support, followed by McMaster at 19 percent, Barrett at 17 percent and Bauer at 12 percent. About one in five likely GOP voters -- or 19 percent -- have yet to decide.

In a March Rasmussen poll, McMaster had 21 percent support, Bauer 17 percent, Barrett 14 percent and Haley 12 percent, with 29 percent undecided.