The big story to start out the South Carolina Governor's race is that most of the candidates aren't well known- and that for the one who is it's a bad thing.
We looked at Andre Bauer, Gresham Barrett, and Henry McMaster on the Republican side. For Democrats we tested Jim Rex, Vincent Sheheen, and Robert Ford.
78% of voters professed to have no opinion about Sheheen, 70% didn't about Ford, 69% didn't about Barrett, 59% didn't about Rex, and 49% didn't about McMaster.
Andre Bauer is the exception to the rule, with 43% of voters holding a negative opinion of him and just 22% viewing him favorably. What's most interesting about Bauer's standing is that he actually gets worse reviews from Republicans (a 23/42 spread) than Democrats (22/36). And he's most unpopular with independents (19/55). So it appears Bauer will have a lot of trouble in either a primary or general election. At the same time he showed an ability to come back from the political dead in 2006 so it would be a mistake to completely write him off.
McMaster and Barrett both lead all three potential Democratic opponents. McMaster is up 40-31 on Rex, 41-27 on Sheheen, and 42-27 on Ford. For Barrett the leads are 40-33, 41-26, and 42-28 respectively.
It would be a pretty competitive race if Bauer were to somehow snag the nomination. He leads Ford and Sheheen just 37-33 and 38-33 respectively and actually trails Rex 37-36.
At this point it appears Republicans are certainly favored to keep the Governor's office but given how anonymous the candidates generally are right now it's not impossible one of the Democrats could really catch on and make it a closely contested race.
We didn't directly test the primary contests but Jim Rex is viewed favorably by 27% of Democrats compared to 20% for Robert Ford and 16% for Vincent Sheheen.
On the Republican side Henry McMaster is viewed favorably by 36% of voters in his party to 23% for Andre Bauer and 19% for Gresham Barrett.
All things considered the race looks pretty wide open.
Full results here