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Nikki Haley grabs a lead in South Carolina

After a year of campaigning and trailing in the polls -- and a year of being promoted by grass-roots conservatives as a phenom in the mold of Marco Rubio -- state legislator Nikki Haley seizes the lead in the four-way GOP primary for governor of South Carolina. An automated Rasmussen poll of 912 Republicans has Haley surging from 12 to 30 percent support in a month, leapfrogging the state's attorney general, lieutenant governor and a congressman, all with more money and institutional support. One reason, as I posted last week -- Gov. Mark Sanford's (R-S.C.) political PAC reactivated recently and spent $400,000 on sunny Haley TV ads.

This is only one Rasmussen poll, and unless a candidate scores 50 percent of the vote he or she goes to a run-off, but what would a Haley win mean? It would be a massive victory for the conservative grass roots, especially RedState, which have promoted her endlessly. And it would be a boon for Mitt Romney, who won Haley's endorsement in 2008, endorsed her this year, and would obviously be expected to win it in 2012.

By David Weigel  |  May 20, 2010; 11:44 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Election  
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