A pair of “mainstream” polls recently showed U.S. senator Lindsey Graham leading his Democratic rival Jaime Harrison by six percentage points in a surprisingly competitive battle for one of South Carolina’s two seats in the United States Senate.
Now, one of those polls contends that Graham’s lead has “evaporated.”
According to the latest polling from Morning Consult, Graham now trails Harrison by two percentage points – with the Democrat drawing the support of 47 percent of respondents compared to 45 percent who said they supported Graham.
According to Morning Consult’s senior reporter Eli Yokley, this eight-percentage point swing was “the most dramatic movement” seen in any U.S. Senate race in the nation.
It also raises questions as to whether Graham is benefiting as much as expected from his starring (albeit hypocritical) role in the pending confirmation of U.S. supreme court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
Conventional wisdom holds that Graham’s high-profile backing of U.S. president Donald Trump’s choice to replace liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a huge net positive for him in the Palmetto State – an opportunity to remind conservative voters of his fiery defense of Trump’s last supreme court choice.
Why is that important? Because Graham has struggled to maintain support from conservatives owing to his weather vane approach to politics.
The Morning Consult survey was conducted between October 11-20, 2020. Of interest? This same poll showed Trump leading Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in South Carolina by a 51 percent to 45 percent margin.
Another recent survey (.pdf) conducted by liberal strategist Cornell Belcher showed a similar dynamic – with Harrison drawing 47 percent support compared to 45 percent for Graham. That poll was conducted between October 11-16, 2020.
Of interest? Neither survey appeared to offer Constitution party candidate Bill Bledsoe as an option to voters – although Belcher’s polling memo noted that South Carolina “has a long history of protest voting” and Bledsoe’s name “is still the first name on the ballot.”
Why is this important? Because both Harrison’s campaign and the third-party groups supporting it have made Bledsoe’s candidacy a focus … hoping to get disaffected conservative voters to cast their votes for him instead of Graham.
Could this strategy be driving down Graham’s support at a pivotal moment in the race?
It’s possible …
Harrison has the ability to drive a multitude of messages over the final two weeks of the race. How come? Because his campaign has rewritten the record books in terms of fundraising, bringing in an astronomical $57 million from July to September. That haul shattered the previous quarterly record of $38 million set by Beto O’Rourke in his unsuccessful 2018 campaign against U.S. senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
Will it be enough? We shall see …
Once again, no Democrat has won a U.S. Senate race in South Carolina this millennium. The last to do it? The late Fritz Hollings, who defeated GOP congressman Bob Inglis in 1998. Furthermore, no Democrat has won a statewide election in South Carolina since 2006 – when Jim Rex defeated Karen Floyd in the race for state superintendent of education.
That is a lot of history working against Harrison …
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