Lexington state Rep. Nikki Haley holds a 20 percentage-point lead in the four-way race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, according to a poll conducted Sunday by North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling.
According to Sunday's automated telephone survey of 998 likely Republican primary voters, Haley totaled 43 percent support. U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett polled second at 23 percent support, up 7 percentage points from a PPP poll two weeks ago. Haley held a 21-percentage point lead in a PPP poll two weeks ago, but overall support for her reflected in Sunday's poll is up 4 percentage points.
The PPP analysis said it was likely Barrett would make an expected runoff against Haley.
"There's probably a better chance of her avoiding a runoff on Tuesday than not finishing first unless something crazy happens to shake up the race in the final 24 hours," the PPP analysis said. "The person who's really had a good couple of weeks is Gresham Barrett."
The former front-runner, Attorney General Henry McMaster had fallen to third at 16 percent, and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer was fourth at 12 percent.
Haley, 38, has suffered no political damage from unproven accusations by two men that they had a physical relationship with the married mother of two, PPP said. Haley's favorability rating among voters has increased since the previous PPP poll.
According to the poll, 54 percent did not believe the accusers. One-third said they are not sure, and 13 said they thought the accusations were true.
Haley has said she would resign if proof of infidelity emerges, and 42 percent surveyed agreed she should drop out of the race.
"Nikki Haley's in good shape," said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling.
"Her campaign has deflected the allegations against her well, and so far she hasn't suffered any political damage in the wake of them."
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