Lindsey Graham could have a fight on his hands next year.
A poll released today shows that the Senator from South Carolina, who in the past two years has become one of the most vehement defenders of President Donald Trump, is in a statistical tie with Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison. The Change Research-Post and Courier poll showed that Graham held a slim 2-point lead over Harrison in the race. A total of 47 percent of voters said they would vote for Graham while 45 percent backed the Democratic challenger, with 9 percent still undecided.
The result was within the poll’s 3.1 percent margin of error, but The Hill noted that there were other potentially troubling signs for Graham. The poll showed that his favorability rating was underwater, with only 38 percent of respondents saying they viewed him favorably versus 53 percent who viewed Graham either very or somewhat unfavorably.
Graham has not seen a serious challenge since first being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002 with a nearly 10-point win over Democrat Alex Sanders. Graham was re-elected in 2008 with a 15-point victory and again in 2014 with a nearly 18-point victory. South Carolina has been one of the most reliably red states, with Trump winning the state in 2016 by 15 points.
But Graham has come under greater scrutiny as he defends Trump. While Graham was once one of Trump’s most vocal critics on the right, voicing his opposition during the 2016 campaign, he has since become one of the key members of the Senate backing Trump. Graham has regularly derided the impeachment hearings, recently saying he wants the expected U.S. Senate trial after Trump’s likely impeachment to be over with quickly.
“I don’t want to give it any legitimacy because it’s a crock. Every impeachment except this one has been conducted by outside counsel,” he said, according to Fox News
Graham’s backing of Trump appears to have given a national boost to Harrison, his prospective opponent in 2020. As the Post and Courier reported in October, Harrison raised a record $2.1 million in his fight to unseat the incumbent Graham. It was the most ever raised in a quarter by a Democratic U.S. Senate challenger in South Carolina, breaking the record of $1.5 million that Harrison himself had set the previous quarter.
In announcing the total, Harrison praised the grassroots support his campaign had garnered.
“Our campaign is growing and powered by grassroots supporters across South Carolina and the nation,” Harrison said. “I am fighting to ensure that every South Carolinian has access to affordable health care, good paying jobs and student loan debt relief.”