One of the frustrations you face as a pollster is sometimes you have a survey in the field and then something happens to make it obsolete. We polled South Carolina over the weekend but with the revelations about Nikki Haley this morning the Republican primary for Governor may have undergone a fundamental change since we interviewed GOP voters over the weekend. We'll still release the numbers tomorrow since they'll if nothing else tell us what the state of the race was before this new information came out.
Will this be fatal to Haley's prospects? It's hard to say. Republicans voters, including even in South Carolina, have been relatively forgiving to their sex scandal politicians. Last we looked David Vitter's approval with Republicans was 62/19. John Ensign's was 68/19. Even Mark Sanford's was still decent at 50/34. And Haley's alleged transgressions, if true, don't seem as serious as any of those.
Judging by those numbers Haley might be able to make it but there are some circumstances that make her case different. Even though she's polling well, most voters in South Carolina still know little or nothing about her. For many this will be their first impression of her and that will be a problem.
The biggest thing that will be interesting to see is whether GOP voters are as forgiving of a cheating Republican woman as they are of a cheating Republican man. We've seen GOP voters show huge indignation towards Democrats who cheat but little toward Republican men who cheat. Will the reaction to Haley be more like the one toward the Democrats or toward the Republican men? The answer to that will likely determine whether or not Haley is the next Governor of South Carolina.