As Gov. Nikki Haley considers potential candidates to replace Sen. Jim DeMint, she might want to check with Public Policy Polling to see the latest numbers showing comedian Stephen Colbert as her constituents' preferred 'Republican' pick to succeed the outgoing senator.
The North Carolina-based polling shop surveyed 520 South Carolina residents over the weekend, offering nine potential DeMint successors including Colbert, and the Charleston-born TV news satirist came away with the plurality of support from 20% of respondents, followed by U.S. Rep. Tim Scott (15%), Rep. Trey Gowdy (14%), and former first lady Jenny Sanford (11%).
When Colbert's name was removed from the mix, it was Jenny Sanford who polled at the top with 17% of support, followed by Scott (16%), former state attorney general Henry McMaster (13%), and Gowdy (12%), with 14% indicating "Someone else/not sure." Though he remains wildly unpopular with 70% of voters, former governor-turned hiking enthusiast Mark Sanford managed to get the support of 9% of those polled when Colbert was not considered, putting him ahead of current Reps. Jeff Duncan, Mick Mulvaney, and Joe Wilson. The poll had a margin of error of 4.3%.
Haley reminded Mr. Colbert on Facebook last week that she had not forgotten that he did not know the official state drink (milk), when he challenged her to a 'Palmetto-off' during a show appearance in April.
In a release Monday, Haley dismissed the idea of appointing a 'placeholder' or caretaker senator who would only serve until the 2014 special election would be held, the role many assumed that rumored appointee Henry McMaster would assume, saying "I reject the option of a 'placeholder'."
The PPP poll also showed Haley as the 35th least-popular governor in the nation, with a 42% approval rating, including 78% of Democrats and 57% of Independents indicating their disapproval with the first-term gov.
It's up to Haley who will replace DeMint, who was re-elected in 2010, in the short term. The appointed senator would serve until 2014, when a special election would be held to determine who will serve out the remaining two years of his term. Last week, DeMint announced he would leave the Senate in January to lead conservative D.C. think tank the Heritage Foundation.