ROCK HILL — Gov. Nikki Haleys approval rating rose over the past two months and surpassed her disapproval mark for the first time in a publicly released survey in more than a year, while U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham seems to have support in his 2014 re-election bid, according to a new poll from Winthrop University on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, South Carolinians have a favorable opinion of new U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, gave slightly higher marks for Congress and General Assembly than in early December and had little change in their opinion of Barack Obama, though the president received the highest approval score in the poll.
Haleys approval rating was 42.5 percent in this months survey -- four percentage points better than a Winthrop poll two months ago.
The first-term Republican from Lexington received 38.4 percent disapproval rating. Those numbers were similar among registered voters as they were among all respondents.
The latest result was the first time Haleys approval rating surpassed her disapproval mark in four Winthrop polls and two Public Policy Polling surveys since June 2011 -- five months after she took office.
Haleys approval among Republican and Republican-leaning voters reached 66.8 percent in the latest poll, up five percentage points from early December.
This improvement comes as Haley is gearing up for an expected re-election bid in 2014. She named grassroots organizers Tuesday. A Public Policy Polling survey in December found Haley in a statistical dead heat with probable Democratic challenger state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw, who lost the governors race in 2010.
Graham, a Seneca Republican who has been seen as a potentially vulnerable incumbent, received 47.3 percent approval over 33.7 percent disapproval among South Carolinians this month.
He had a 39.4 percent approval rating in a Winthrop poll two years ago, but the senator has taken stern stances on defense issues in recent months, including trying to get more information about the attack on a U.S. Embassy in Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador and fighting Chuck Hagels nomination for defense secretary..
His approval rating jumped to 71.6 percent among Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters. Grahams improvement has been seen in Public Policy Polling surveys as well.
More than 45 percent of South Carolinians thought Scotts appointment by Haley to replace Jim DeMint, who resigned from the Senate to head the Heritage Foundation conservative think tank, was excellent or good. About 35 percent thought the choice of the North Charleston Republican was fair or poor.
More than half of respondents -- 52 percent -- had a favorable opinion of Scott with 19 percent unfavorable.
South Carolinians approval of the General Assembly rose two percentage points to 40 percent since early December. More than 35 percent disapproved of state lawmakers.
The opinion of Congress continues to be poor with 14 percent approval versus 75.5 percent disapproval. The approval mark nudged a percentage point higher than two months ago.
Obama approval was 47.6 percent in South Carolina -- about the same as he scored in early December. His disapproval rating, however, rose four percentage points to 45.3 percent.
As for money matters, South Carolinians generally thought the economy was faring better in the state than in early December and better than the national overall.
The Winthrop poll surveyed 1,038 respondents from Feb. 9-17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.