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PALMETTO POLITICS

News of Sen. Jim DeMint’s intended resignation from office has barely cooled. Not so South Carolina politics. Gov. Nikki Haley has been deemed “one of the most unpopular governors in the country,” at least according to Public Policy Polling, which finds the tea party favorite with a 70 percent approval rating among Republicans, but a 42 percent approval among South Carolina voters overall.

“There is a path back to popularity for Gov. Haley though: appointing Stephen Colbert to replace Jim DeMint in the Senate,” the pollster advises.

The Comedy Central host, who has flirted with a run for office for years, now ranks first on the public’s wish list to replace Mr. DeMint with 20 percent of voter support, followed by Reps. Tim Scott and Trey Gowdy, and none other than Jenny Sanford, ex-wife of ex-governor Mark Sanford.

“Nikki Haley could score some points with the Democrats and independent voters she’s struggling with by appointing Stephen Colbert to the U.S. Senate,” says Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “But if she goes down a more traditional path, voters’ top choice is Tim Scott.”

And about Ms. Sanford.

“She really could probably get elected to office if she wanted to. Forty-four percent of voters have a favorable opinion of her to only 25 percent with a negative one, and her popularity holds true across party lines. She’s at 48/21 with Republicans, 43/31 with Democrats, and 39/26 with independents,” the pollster states.

CAMPUS HIGH ROLLERS

Private college presidents draw hefty compensation packages — and among the 50 highest-paid private college presidents in 2010, half led institutions that provided top executives with cash to cover taxes on bonuses and other benefits, says Jack Stripling, author of a new Chronicle in Higher Education analysis of pay and perks among the academic elite.

“This practice, known as ‘grossing up,’ has fallen out of fashion at many publicly traded companies, where boards have decided the perk is simply not worth the shareholder outrage it can invite,” Mr. Stripling says.

The Chronicle’s analysis examined the salaries of 493 presidents at private colleges with budgets exceeding $50 million. The highest-paid during 2010, the study period? It was Robert Kerrey, former Nebraska senator and 1992 presidential hopeful who earned $3 million as president of The New School in New York City.

Mr. Kerrey ultimately resigned from his position and ran for his old Senate seat, aiming to succeed retiring Democrat Ben Nelson. He lost to Republican nominee Deb Fischer, a state legislator backed by Sarah Palin.

POLL DU JOUR

• 59 percent of likely U.S. voters oppose giving President Obama the right to raise the nation’s debt ceiling without approval from Congress; 81 percent of Republicans agree.

• 58 percent overall are not confident that “political leaders in Washington” will reach an agreement on the fiscal cliff; 75 percent of Republicans agree.

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