December 5, 2012

Haley still struggling with job approval rating

Gov. Nikki Haley is still fighting to win job approval from a majority South Carolinians almost two years after taking office, a new Winthrop University poll released Wednesday finds.

Haley received 38.3 percent approval of those surveyed last week, while 41.3 percent disapproved of her job performance. Both numbers are higher than the last Winthrop poll in April. Her job approval was 34.6 percent a year ago.

Since the last Winthrop poll was released, Haley watched her signature government reform bill get stonewalled by foes on the last day of the legislative session and was cleared of ethics charges from her days as a state representative from Lexington County. She also received acclaim for her prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention and grappled with criticism over hackers stealing sensitive financial information belonging to 6.4 million consumers and businesses from the S.C. Department of Revenue.

The governor’s numbers are roughly 50-50 in the latest poll when eliminating people who had no opinion or refused to answer the question. That has remained roughly the same over the past year.

Her job approval among Republican registered voters stands at 61.5 percent, up slightly from April.

Haley said at a news conference Wednesday that she has not read the Winthrop poll.

"I know you love them, but polls just don't matter," she told reporters. The governor said job-creation numbers are what she cares about most.

President Barack Obama’s job performance in the wake of his re-election won approval from a bulk of South Carolinians surveyed -- 48 percent to 41 percent. That was higher than a year ago, the last time Winthrop asked the question.

While Obama received better job approval numbers than Haley for the second time in a year, the poll said comparing results between the two would be “erroneous” because almost one of five respondents had no opinion when asked about the governor. About one out 10 had no opinion about the president’s job performance.

The S.C. legislature received a thumbs up with more South Carolinians approving of lawmakers’ work for the first time in three Winthrop polls taken in the past year -- 38 percent to 33 percent.

The poll also revealed a growing pessimism about the direction of the state.

More South Carolinians -- 42 percent versus 40 percent -- believe the state is heading in the wrong direction, a reversal from seven months ago.

They continued to be more down on the direction of the country -- 53 percent to 39.6 percent -- though those numbers were more optimistic than previous polls in April and December 2011.

South Carolinians are less hopeful about the economy.

While most of those polled continue to believe economic conditions are getting better in the state, a larger percentage said conditions are getting worse than in April -- 32.3 percent to 26.6 percent. The numbers were similar about the national economic conditions.

Winthrop polled 929 respondents from Nov. 25 through Sunday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

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