SC-Sen: The Atlantic, “How Jaime Harrison (D) Could Beat Lindsey Graham (R) in South Carolina”

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The Atlantic has a good piece out about the upcoming U.S. Senate race between incumbent U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R. SC) and former South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison (D. SC). It’s worth the read but Adam Harris emphasizes how Harrison could pull off an upset win:

When we spoke in early March, Harrison riffed on the work of a senator. It was more than flashing a pearl-white smile on television every night. “Flying on Air Force One is not that work; not addressing the issue of the quality of our water is not that work; not fighting against climate change given that we are at the epicenter of that fight is not that work,” he told me. South Carolinians, and any constituents of any state, for that matter, care about local issues: the workers laid off by Boeing in Charleston; the school system in Allendale County, which has been taken over by the state; the hospital that closed in Bamberg County. Those people were any senator’s base. Those people were the ones Graham forgot about. “If he believes partisan politics is his base and that’s what he has to do, then go ahead and do it,” Harrison said.

The Trump administration’s bungled response to the coronavirus has helped Harrison’s campaign. On Facebook Live and Zoom, he talks about the sorry state of rural health care in South Carolina and how the crisis in the state’s wretched public schools is being exacerbated by the virus. (His team has set up a conference line so the 30 percent of South Carolinians without broadband internet access can listen in.) And he pitches moderate policies that don’t deviate much from those of national Democrats. He’s pressured Graham to support Medicaid expansion, and berated the senator for declaring that only “over our dead bodies” would the Senate extend the weekly $600 federal boost for those who are unemployed past July 31.

Graham’s strategy of connecting with the base of the Republican Party could also benefit Harrison. 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. In the South Carolina Democratic primary, there was a 131 percent increase in turnout among voters in some of the state’s whitest precincts, ones that are traditionally conservative. “The primary shows that there is tremendous energy for leadership change in South Carolina,” Harrison told me in March. The bump has shown up in Harrison’s poll numbers as well. In late April, the Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball—two election forecasters—shifted the contest from “Safe Republican” to “Likely Republican.”

“We’re an independent state that trends Republican because Democrats run shitty campaigns, and we never want to admit that to ourselves,” Trav Robertson, the chair of the state Democratic Party, told me. Graham has historically convinced moderate Democrats that he’s a centrist, he added, but “he can’t convince moderate independents and Democrats that he is a moderate anymore.”

Harrison’s campaign has gained a ton of momentum and has a shot at unseating Graham:

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is locked in a dead heat in his bid to win re-election, a new online poll finds.

Graham, who has represented South Carolina in Congress since 1995 and held his Senate seat since 2003, has in recent months faced mounting pressure from Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison. A new Civiqs poll released this week finds the two rivals tied at 42%.

A deeper dive into the poll reveals more possibly unnerving developments for Graham. Fifty-six percent of South Carolina voters have an unfavorable view of the senator, while only 35% have a positive view of him.

Harrison, a Yale and Georgetown Law graduate who rose to become the first black chairman of the state's Democratic Party, has claimed an 18% lead among independent voters — 46% to 28% — though GOP voters still dominate the state.

If the election were held today, 10% of voters say they would vote for someone else.

The poll surveyed 591 registered South Carolina voters between May 23-26, and Civiqs, a data analytics company, estimates a 4.5% margin of error.

And Democracy for America is keeping up the momentum to help Harrison win. I received this e-mail from DFA yesterday in support of Harrison’s campaign:

This is huge news, Samuel: a new poll shows Jaime Harrison TIED with Senator Lindsey Graham in the South Carolina U.S. Senate race.

South Carolina Senate Race
Jaime Harrison (D) – 42%
Lindsey Graham (R-inc) – 42%

Source: Civiqs, May 23-26

It's clear folks in South Carolina are fed up with Lindsey Graham acting more like Donald Trump's lapdog than getting to work for his constituents. With enough grassroots support, a progressive champion like Jaime can win this race and send Graham packing.

But Trump and Mitch McConnell’s network of dark money donors are going to spend whatever it takes and try every dirty trick in the book to keep Lindsey Graham in the Senate.

We need to make sure Jaime’s campaign has what it takes to cut through the onslaught of outside spending by Trump-aligned super PACs and get out the vote across South Carolina.

Jaime's counting on strong grassroots power to win this race. Split a contribution between Jaime's campaign and DFA today to help him capture this momentum and send Lindsey Graham packing.

Thanks for helping DFA elect progressive champions like Jaime. Let's send Lindsey Graham home for good and elect a true fighter for the people of South Carolina.

— Yvette

Yvette Simpson, CEO
Democracy for America

Click here to donate to Harrison’s campaign.