Rasmussen: Haley outperforms runoff opponent in general election

According to the latest Rasmussen poll in South Carolina, the ugly fight between Republican gubernatorial candidates over the last few weeks hasn’t helped the Democrats out much, if at all.  Both Nikki Haley and Gresham Barrett beat Democratic nominee Vincent Sheheen by double digits, although Haley gets well above the 50% mark while Barrett is stuck with a plurality.  Sheheen, on the other hand, doesn’t even get into the 40s against either Republican:

State Representative Nikki Haley is running stronger than her Republican Primary runoff opponent in the general election for South Carolina’s first open gubernatorial race since 1994.

The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Haley picking up 55% of the vote over Democratic State Senator Vincent Sheheen, who earns 34% support. Five percent (5%) would choose some other candidate and six percent (6%) are undecided.

Congressman Gresham Barrett earns 46% support over Sheheen’s 38%. However, 10% of voters would vote for some other candidate in this match-up and six percent (6%) are not sure. …

Despite facing unsubstantiated allegations of multiple marital affairs during the primary race Haley picked up plurality support in a mid-May poll. However, just two months before, Haley came in last against the same three Republican opponents. She moved solidly in the lead following an endorsement from Sarah Palin.

Rasmussen doesn’t poll the runoff election, but Haley’s favorables remain sky-high at 63/26.  Barrett has a respectable 50/28, although only 17% find him very favorable, compared to twice that number for Haley.  Sheheen comes in last here, too, with a 46/36 rating that strongly suggests that he’s almost reached his ceiling of support statewide.

Interestingly, Haley does much better among men than Barrett against Sheheen (64% to 50%), as well as better among all age demographics, except for the youngest voters.  Both Republicans lose the thirtysomethings, but Haley gets within eight points, 37/45, while Sheheen gets a clear majority against Barrett (24/53).  Haley has a 45-point advantage against Sheheen with independents (68/23), while Barrett’s lead is a third of that and barely a majority (50/35).  Haley also does much better in the middle-class income levels:

  • $20-40K: Haley vs Sheheen, 62/28; Barrett vs Sheheen, 46/35
  • $40-60K: 50/46; 34/56
  • $60-75K: 57/30; 58/29

That difference in the $40-60K demo will be significant in a general election.  Republicans appear to have a better shot at winning the seat with Haley, who has a more consistent level of support across the population base.  Barrett would also likely beat Sheheen as well, but it’s more of a gamble.  Most importantly, the standing of both runoff candidates do not appear to have suffered any significant harm from the mudslinging campaign, and Democrats may well wonder how they failed to take advantage of it if that remains the case through to November.  It may also provide an instructive moment about the futility of degrading personal attacks for future campaigns, too.