When he decided he’d seek another term in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) probably thought his reelection was all but assured. That’s one of the many benefits of being an incumbent: It provides definite advantages that help incumbents remain in office.
But now, with two months until Election Day 2020, things are not looking good for one of President Donald Trump’s favorite Senate lapdogs, as polls show him dead even with his Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison.
Not only are the polls trending against Graham, but the respected Cook Political Report just changed its rating of the Graham-Harrison race from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican,” which basically means Graham has just a tad more than a 50-50 chance of holding on to his Senate seat.
Why did the Cook Political Report change its designation on the race? They were only too happy to explain the campaign dynamics which have led to their move:
“Several sources in the state point to one crucial decision by the Harrison campaign that has made him more competitive than Democrats in South Carolina usually are — going up early on TV with positive, biographical ads that were left unanswered by Graham for almost two months, with Harrison beginning ads in early April while Graham went on air in late May.
“Harrison’s latest ad contrasts Graham’s travel expenses with the senator saying he would reauthorize COVID unemployment benefits “over our dead bodies,” a remark Democrats highlight as particularly tone-deaf as coronavirus deaths near 170,000 nationwide, including 2,260 in South Carolina as of Sunday.”
Jessica Taylor of the Cook Political Report concludes her comments on the Graham-Harrison race by noting that Harrison still faces many obstacles if he hopes to upset Graham, but adds it can indeed happen:.
While there are still large hurdles that remain for Harrison to become the first Democrat elected to the Senate from South Carolina since 1998, it’s clear this race is becoming more competitive, and Graham faces an incredibly strong challenge. In the races in our Likely Republican column, this is also the one some national Republicans view as the more competitive. We are moving South Carolina from Likely to Lean Republican.
If this were any other year, Lindsey Graham would probably be up by 10 points or more in the polls and have reelection well in hand. But this is no ordinary year. The mounting death toll and economic uncertainty make both Trump and Graham extremely vulnerable. Once the votes are counted, being joined at the hip with a deeply unpopular president could spell the end of Lindsey’s Senate career.