USA

Sen. Lindsey Graham holds one-point lead in tight SC race for reelection, poll finds

Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of President Donald Trump's closest allies on Capitol Hill, is locked in a virtual tie with his Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison, according to a Morning Consult poll released Tuesday. 

The poll found the incumbent senator from South Carolina with a one-percentage-point lead in his quest for a fourth term, which is within the survey's 4-point margin of error.

Graham campaign spokesman T.W. Arrighi downplayed the results of the poll, which was conducted from July 24 to Aug. 2 from among 741 likely voters. Arrighi told The Post and Courier that the poll "excludes the opinions of numerous voters" and said its findings "are far different than what our internal polling shows." 

"But one thing is consistent in all polling," he said. "The more voters find out about how radically liberal Jaime Harrison is, the less they support him." 

On Twitter, Harrison shared a video of his wife, University of South Carolina law professor Marie Boyd, surprising him with the poll results, 

'No one gave us a shot. Yet, here we are, giving a 25 year incumbent the fight of his political life," Harrison said in the tweet. "Three months to go. Let's do this." 

Poll: Mitch McConnell holds large lead over Democratic Senate rival Amy McGrath

Other recent surveys have also pointed to a tight race for Graham. 

Two surveys from Democratic firms released last week, one from ALG Research and the other from brilliant corners Research & Strategies, found Graham leading Harrison 49%-45% and 43%-41%, respectively (the latter poll included Libertarian candidate Keenan Wallace Dunham, who was at 4%).  A Gravis Marketing poll earlier this month found Graham with a larger, 7-point lead, after a Civiqs/Daily Kos poll in May found the race was tied. 

Harrison, the first African-American chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, has raised nearly $30 million, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission, allowing him to improve his name recognition through massive ad buys. His fundraising has been boosted with many out-of-state donations that have been fueled by Graham's national profile, which grew with his passionate defense of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings and his fiery opposition to Trump's impeachment. 

Yet, for some Republicans, Graham has not been a strong enough advocate for the president's agenda. Some Trump supporters likely remember his fierce denouncement of Trump as a "race-baiting, xenophobic bigot" during the 2016 Republican primary, while other conservatives have been critical of his willingness to compromise with Democrats to reach a deal on immigration. Graham has also been critical of Trump's effort to reduce U.S. military involvement in the Middle East. 

The Morning Consult poll found Graham with the support of 81% of South Carolina Republicans, 11 points behind the 92% support held by Trump with GOP voters in the Palmetto State. The poll found Trump leading presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the state, 49%-45%. 

Morning Consult released three other Senate race polls on Tuesday, all of them favorable to Republicans. It found Sen. John Cornyn of Texas ahead of his challenger, Air Force veteran M.J. Hegar, 44%-38%; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky leading Marine Corps veteran Amy McGrath 53%-36% and Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama trailing former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville 52%-35%.

Jones is considered one of the most vulnerable incumbent senators heading in November after winning an upset over former Judge Ray Moore, who was accused of past sexual misconduct with teenage girls, in a 2017 special election to fill the seat left vacant when Jeff Sessions left the Senate to become Trump's attorney general. 

The only state where the poll did not find Trump leading Biden was Texas, where the former vice president held a narrow one-point lead, an essential tie given the Texas poll's 2-point margin of error. 

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