COLUMBIA -- Gov. Nikki Haley's approval rating has fallen slightly since June -- enough that more of the state's residents disapprove of her performance as governor than approve.
Still, if they had to vote again, South Carolinians would elect Haley over her 2010 Democratic challenger, Vincent Sheheen, according to a new poll from the Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling.
"Unlike some of her controversial counterparts, like Florida's Rick Scott and Ohio's John Kasich, Haley is a rare governor of the 2010 tea party breed who has not turned voters off so much that they have buyers' remorse," the firm noted in a news release.
Haley's approval rating is at 41 percent, while 43 percent disapprove of her. Sixteen percent were "not sure." Those numbers are down from June, when Public Policy found 42 percent of South Carolinians approved of Haley while 41 percent did not.
Asked if they could "do last fall's election for governor over again," 49 percent said they would vote for Haley while 43 percent said they would vote for Sheheen. Eight percent were not sure.
Haley won the November general election 51 percent to 47 percent.
"As Gov. Haley has always said, her focus is on jobs, boosting our economy, reducing spending and making state government more accountable and taxpayer friendly," Haley's spokesman Rob Godfrey said. "Poll numbers are really a sideshow."
State Democrats, under new Chairman Dick Harpootlian, relentlessly have attacked Haley since May, putting out YouTube videos mocking her and criticizing her for giving high-paying state jobs to her former campaign workers.
Friday, Democrats released a video, set to the song "Free Fallin' " by Tom Petty, about South Carolina's current 10.9 percent jobless rate under Haley.
"We are explaining who she is and people don't like it," Harpootlian said Friday. "This idea somehow if you've got an 'R' after your name makes you invincible in S.C. is clearly fading quickly."
Neal Thigpen, a Francis Marion University political science professor, agreed Democrats might be having an impact on Haley's approval rating. But that impact is not enough to make her ineffective.
"It probably means some of (Harpootlian's) stuff is hitting home," Thigpen said. "I don't think it spells disaster for her."
Public Policy, based in Raleigh, surveyed 587 South Carolinians from Aug. 25-28 through automated telephone interviews. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent.
Other items to note from the poll:
--Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who has been making the rounds on national talk shows recently, has a 58 percent disapproval rating in the state.
--U.S. Sens. Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham had little change in their approval ratings. Forty-seven percent approve of DeMint, the same as in June, and 41 percent approve of Graham, up from 40 percent.