Is This Lindsey Graham’s Last Act? a Surprising Poll Gives His Critics Optimism

 In Australian Capital Territory

A new poll out on Sunday by CBS News/YouGov shows South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the President’s biggest allies in the Senate, trail­ing his oppo­nent Jaime Harrison by one point. With the Republican incum­bent being out-raised by his Democratic chal­lenger, and a con­tentious Supreme Court con­fir­ma­tion process divert­ing him from the cam­paign trail, could the long­time Senator really end up losing in November?

It’s begin­ning to look more and more pos­si­ble.

Graham, the one-time pres­i­den­tial can­di­date who once was deeply crit­i­cal of then-can­di­date Trump, has become one of the President’s biggest sup­port­ers, stren­u­ous­ly defend­ing the President’s poli­cies and becom­ing his chief apol­o­gist in the Senate. The long­time con­ser­v­a­tive Senator’s flip-flop on Trump sur­prised many of his erst­while sup­port­ers, and he has fre­quent­ly been the target of ads by Democrats and Republican crit­ics. In response, the Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans, has cir­cu­lat­ed a polit­i­cal ad using the Senator’s own words to describe Trump, and attempt­ing to call into ques­tion Graham’s cred­i­bil­i­ty and judge­ment.

Graham, who was first elect­ed to the U.S. Senate in 2002, is engaged in a close battle with Democrat Jamie Harrison, a rising star in the Democratic party and the first African American to lead the South Carolina Democratic party. Once con­sid­ered a long-shot in his race against Graham, recent polls show Harrison locked in a dead heat with Graham among likely South Carolina voters. Although The Cook Report has the South Carolina con­test “lean­ing Republican,” a poll out Sunday by CBS News/YouGov showed Harrison with a one-point lead over Graham. The newest poll, which is within the sta­tis­ti­cal margin of error, is nonethe­less as sign of just how close the con­test is.

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But it’s not only the polit­i­cal attacks by his rivals that Graham must con­tend with; he is also losing the money race to Harrison. South Carolina’s senior Senator began the summer as one of the most well-funded Senate Republicans up for reelec­tion, but by the middle of September, he was sub­stan­tial­ly trail­ing Harrison in cam­paign fundrais­ing. His finan­cial deficit was clear­ly on the Senator’s mind this past Thursday when he men­tioned the issue in two sep­a­rate appear­ances on Fox News.

“I’m get­ting over­whelmed,” Graham des­per­ate­ly told pop­u­lar Fox News host Sean Hannity Thursday evening. “Help me. They’re killing me, money-wise. Help me. You helped me last week — help me again.”

Harrison’s for­mi­da­ble fundrais­ing comes in part from his lever­age of the Democrat-sup­port­ing ActBlue cam­paign. In July and August, Harrison raised over $14.1 from online donors using the plat­form. That was after out-rais­ing Graham on an almost two-to-one ratio in the second quar­ter, rais­ing $14 mil­lion, as opposed to Graham’s $8.4 mil­lion. With the polls show­ing a tight race, and with the death of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ani­mat­ing Democratic activists, Harrison has also been lever­ag­ing flash fundrais­ing cam­paigns to raise even more money for polit­i­cal ads that are already swamp­ing South Carolina air­waves.

With all of the chal­lenges back home in South Carolina, in Washington, as Senate Judiciary Chair, Graham is charged with help­ing lead the con­tentious con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The hear­ings will no doubt cost the strug­gling Senator time off the cam­paign trail and instead, in the Senate cham­bers. For Graham, it is time he can ill-afford to lose.

So could Harrison’s fundrais­ing prowess and Graham’s strug­gling poll num­bers actu­al­ly knock off the three-term sen­a­tor? While it’s too early to say, it’s clear that Graham, like the President, is in the fight of his polit­i­cal life. So how is the Senator speak­ing of the chal­lenge?

“I am being killed financially,”Graham said on Fox News on Thursday. “This money is because they hate my guts.”

Maybe Graham is right. But per­haps it’s not about hate; maybe it’s just because voters in South Carolina think it’s time for Lindsey Graham’s final act. Either way, will Graham’s lead­er­ship of the Senate con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing of Judge Barrett really be his time for one last bow?

We’ll know when the cur­tain falls on November 3rd.

Forbes: Aerospace & Defense source|articles

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