Washington: Nikki Haley, the incumbent Indian-American governor of South Carolina has taken an impressive 20-point lead over her nearest rival for the gubernatorial polls due in November, according to latest polling data.
Seeking her re-election, Haley from the Republican party now has support of 51 per cent of likely voters as against 31 per cent for Democrat Vincent Sheheen.
Haley, born of migrants parents from Punjab, is only the second Indian-American governors in the United States, the other being fellow Republican Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.
"Voters got to see the direct contrast between our vision for South Carolina and our opponents'. It's clear that our state is moving in the right direction and with your help, we can keep it that way," she said in an email message to her supporter yesterday after the conclusion of the gubernatorial debate.
"She's not running as a state legislator anymore. She's running as the sitting governor," said Gibbs Knotts of the Political Science Department at the College of Charleston.
"The economy is improving. She's raised money. She's, you know, become a national figure in some levels. And so it's a real difficult job to unseat an incumbent," he said.
During the final debate yesterday night, Sheheen and independent Tom Ervin attacked Haley for opposing teacher pay raises, turning down a Medicaid expansion they said would have created thousands of jobs and mismanaging the Department of Social Services in a way that led to the unnecessary deaths of children from abuse.
Defending her record, Haley said she supports more pay for teachers but vetoed a legislative plan that would have used "one-time money" because she refuses to budget like Washington, DC.
Haley has raised more funds than Sheheen.
As of October 20, her campaign reported having more than USD 1.4 million left of more than USD 7.7 million raised. Sheheen's campaign said it had nearly USD 5,78,000 remaining out of about USD 3.4 million raised.