Public Policy Polling, which had the best record in forecasting 2012 election results, has released a new poll showing that South Carolina voters favor Comedy Central host and South Carolina native Stephen Colbert to replace departing Senator Jim DeMint.
DeMint, reportedly the lowest net worth member of the Senate, as well as among the most conservative, announced he will resign from the Senate to head up The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. His predecessor was paid in excess of $1 million last year.
The appointment of DeMint’s successor is in the hands of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley who has said that she would not consider Colbert for the position.
Haley is one of the most unpopular Governors in the country. Only 42% of voters approve of the job she's doing to 49% who disapprove. Out of 43 sitting Governors PPP has polled on, that ranks her 35th in popularity. Haley has pretty solid numbers within her own party. 70% of Republicans approve of the job she's doing to 22% who disapprove. But with Democrats (15/78 approval) and independents (28/57) her numbers are pretty woeful.
Public Policy Polling’s survey shows that there is a path back to popularity for Haley through appointing Stephen Colbert to replace Jim DeMint in the Senate. Colbert tops the wish list of who South Carolina voters would like to see join that body at 20%, followed by Tim Scott at 15%, Trey Gowdy at 14%, Jenny Sanford at 11%, Henry McMaster and Mark Sanford at 8%, Jeff Duncan and Joe Wilson at 5%, and Mick Mulvaney at 4%.
It's Democrats and independents- those voters Haley most needs to improve her standing with- who are pining for a Colbert appointment. Among Democrats 32% say they'd like Colbert to be picked with Jenny Sanford at 19% and no one else in double digits. With crucial independent voters Colbert has a 15 point lead for the appointment, getting 28% to 13% for Tim Scott, 12% for Jenny Sanford, and 10% for Trey Gowdy with no one else in double digits.
If Colbert's lacking knowledge of the state beverage keeps him from Haley's consideration, voters say their top choice is Jenny Sanford at 17%, followed by Tim Scott at 16%, Henry McMaster at 13%, and Trey Gowdy at 12%. If you further filter the field and take the Sanfords out of the potential appointment list three men really stand out from the field: Tim Scott at 19%, Henry McMaster at 17%, and Trey Gowdy at 15%. The other three Congressmen we tested end up well back- Joe Wilson at 8%, Mick Mulvaney at 7%, and Jeff Duncan at 6%.
“Nikki Haley could score some points with the Democrats and independent voters she’s “Nikki Haley could score some points with the Democrats and independent voters she’s struggling with by appointing Stephen Colbert to the US Senate,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “But if she goes down a more traditional path voters’ top choice is Tim Scott.”
PPP surveyed 520 South Carolina voters from December 7th to 9th. The margin of error for the survey is +/-4.3%. The poll was not paid for or authorized by any campaign or political organization.