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Gov. Haley questions poll numbers

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Appearing on "Meet the Press" Sunday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley seemed to question the validity of a South Carolina poll that showed her approval rating at 35 percent because, she claimed, the poll also showed that President Obama would win South Carolina, a reliably Republican state over the past three decades. 

"You’re referring to a local poll that also said President Obama was going to win South Carolina," Haley said. "And I think everybody knows this is one of the reddest of red states. And in a time where he’s showing he’s falling in swing states I just don’t believe that to be accurate." 

But the poll in question, conducted by Winthrop University, did not test President Obama’s general election prospects in the state, only his statewide approval rating, which was found to be 45 percent overall -- higher than Haley’s.

Winthrop University political science professor Scott Huffmon, who directed the poll, said Haley’s statement was "demonstrably false," noting that Obama’s approval rating in the Winthrop poll was statistically identical to his national approval rating and that the poll "didn’t say anything about Obama 'winning' South Carolina." 

"She sure didn’t have a problem with this 'local poll' when we correctly predicted her gubernatorial victory in 2010," Huffmon continued, referring to a Winthrop poll that predicted Haley's defeat of Democrat Vincent Sheheen in the general election. 

Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey told NBC, "The governor meant to, and should have, pointed to the president's approval numbers as opposed to the electoral outcome of the state."

An NBC News/Marist poll of South Carolina voters, conducted just after the Winthrop Poll (Dec. 7-9th), did in fact show President Obama with narrow leads over Mitt Romney (45 to 42 percent) and Newt Gingrich (46 to 42 percent).