“Her understanding of the role of state government appears rather limited,” said the political historian Jack Bass, who has written biographies of Southerners including Strom Thurmond and, most recently, the book “The Palmetto State: The Making of Modern South Carolina.” But he offers an assessment shared by South Carolinians and national political observers alike: “I just find her interesting.”…

There are other indications that the various groups that organize loosely under the South Carolina Tea Party umbrella cannot be counted on as Haley loyalists. Some have questioned her motives behind the creation of a special Tea Party advisory board, and criticized how she handled Amazon.com’s desire for a tax break in return for moving a distribution plant to the state…

“Nikki’s in a hurry — I think that’s what it boils down to,” said Henry McMaster, a former state attorney general who ran against Ms. Haley in the primary and became one of her biggest supporters. “She makes it clear what she wants done, and it causes a little friction.”

One thing is certain. In the middle of it all, Ms. Haley seems to be having fun.