One thing that seems to largely have been lost in all of the drama about whether Nikki Haley had an affair or not is what exactly is driving her dominant lead in the race to begin with. Our poll numbers indicate that it's a) general dissatisfaction with the Republican Party and b) a feeling that the party's gotten too liberal.
South Carolina Republicans are extremely unhappy with their party's direction. Only 27% like where it's headed while 43% think there needs be a change of course. There are vast differences in how voters are planning to cast their ballots today depending on which of those camps they fall in. With those who think the current direction is fine Haley leads Gresham Barrett only 31-29 with Henry McMaster just a little further back at 23%. But among the voters who think the GOP needs a shake up Haley is winning a staggering 57% with Barrett a full 40 points behind at 17%.
Displeasure with the Republican establishment is driving Haley's success just like it did for Rand Paul in Kentucky last month. In that race Paul trailed opponent Trey Grayson 47-45 with voters who were content with the direction of the GOP but won overwhelmingly thanks to a 59-28 lead with folks who weren't.
Haley is also doing particularly well with Republican voters who think the party's gone too far to the left. With folks who think the party is ideologically fine she holds a modest 33-26 lead over Barrett. But with those who think it's too liberal she's up 54-20 on him.
Angry Republicans who think their party is not ideologically pure enough have already nominated Rand Paul and they'll probably nominate Haley and Sharron Angle- the big question is who's next? If I was Jane Norton or another establishment figure with a primary coming up tonight's likely results would make me very nervous.