In any election, the incumbent has the advantage, if only because he or she has the sort of name recognition the challenger lacks, not to mention an increased ability to raise the funds needed to run.
But this year in the South Carolina Senate race between Sen. Lindsey Graham and his Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison, it seems that all the usual political trends have been turned on their heads, leaving Graham vulnerable in a state which hasn’t elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in decades.
Harrison has been outperforming expectations in his race against Graham, while the incumbent seems constantly busy defending Donald Trump’s every utterance no matter how vile, racist, or absurd.
For example, in the first quarter of 2020, Harrison raised $2 million more than Graham, which is unheard of for a challenger, especially in a state as deeply Republican as South Carolina.
And now a new poll shows that Harrison is tied with Graham as we enter the last five months of the 2020 campaign, with FiveThirtyEight reporting the two men in a dead heat, each garnering 42 percent worth of support from voters. That same poll shows Trump with a 10-point lead over presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, which is what you’d expect in a Deep South state such as South Carolina.
The poll also shows that 56 percent of those surveyed view Graham unfavorably, while only 35 percent said their view of the incumbent is favorable. Those aren’t exactly reelection numbers.
Ironically, Graham’s coziness with President Trump could wind up costing him his Senate seat, as The Atlantic recently noted:
“By aligning with Trump, Graham could lose those independent, moderate voters who were so willing to support him when he was the Republican aiming to show the rest of the country a different face of his party. Some evidence indicates that those voters have been animated by the possibility of getting rid of Trump.”
Harrison himself admits that while he may still be considered a long shot, he can sense that the mood in South Carolina suggests the state is ripe for change:
“It’s easy to become cynical—to not speak up and to lose hope. It’s easy to think the struggle isn’t worth it. But never forget our state motto: ‘While I breathe, I hope.’ And hope is here.”
Here’s hoping Jaime Harrison pulls one of the biggest upsets in recent memory. The country certainly deserves better than Lindsey Graham and Donald Trump.