Update: CNN is reporting that Gov. Nikki Haley has narrowed her potential choices to replace Sen. Jim DeMint down to 5 people, including Jenny Sanford, who said she would be honored to serve. The State out of Columbia is reporting the same thing.
If the election were held today, Gov. Haley would lose to the guy she beat by 4 percentage points a couple of years ago in a very strong year for the Republican Party. That guy would be Vincent Sheehen. When I covered the Democratic National Convention earlier this fall, he was there and sounded as though he was in full campaign mode already.
In fact, when he gave a short keynote address during a breakfast for the S.C. Delegation, people joked that it sounded more like a gubernatorial speech than one designed to help him retain his seat in the State House in Columbia.
None of this is set in stone yet. The Republican Party is still much stronger in South Carolina than the Democratic Party. Haley should still be presumed the favorite, even though Public Policy Polling data has been extremely accurate.
Could Sheehen knock off an incumbent Republican governor of red South Carolina? It's possible - Jim Hodges did - but still unlikely. Haley was not an overwhelming favorite when she won and her Tea Party status has waned recently, along with that political group's overall pull in the state. And Hodges won in part because the Republican governor he faced dared touch the third-rail of the state's politics, the Confederate flag, which he said God told him needed to be removed.
Here's the bottom line, though: If the election were held today, Haley would lose. But the election is not being held today.