Lindsey Graham's Democratic Challenger Nearly Tied in Heavily-Republican South Carolina, Poll Shows

Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is statistically tied with Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison, with the staunch pro-Trump incumbent seeing his favorability ratings plummet among independent voters.

Graham, who was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002, is clinging to a 2-percentage point lead over Harrison, 47 to 45 percent, with nearly 10 percent of voters surveyed still remaining undecided about their 2020 vote. As the Change Research/Post and Courier newspaper poll notes, Graham performs poorly in hypothetical November election matchups as well as with voters who do not identify solely as Republicans. The statistical dead heat between Graham and Harrison, who has pulled in record fundraising in recent weeks, comes as the GOP senator has become one of President Donald Trump's most outspoken supporters during the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Trump won the traditionally-Republican state of South Carolina in the 2016 presidential election by a margin of nearly 15 percentage points over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

"[Senator Lindsey Graham] looks extremely vulnerable against Democratic contender Jaime Harrison," the South Carolina pollsters noted among their key findings. "While South Carolina does not support impeaching President Trump, a majority of voters would like Senator Graham to approach the impeachment inquiry with an open mind, rather than leap to the president's defense before hearing evidence."

Graham has not always been such a staunch defender of Trump, with the longtime Republican senator infamously remarking during the 2016 primary, "If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed......and we will deserve it."

If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed.......and we will deserve it.

— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 3, 2016

However, Graham made recent comments that he doubts the president so little that he doesn't intend on being a "fair juror," if and when the House votes to send the articles of impeachment over to the Senate.

Harrison told residents of Greenville, South Carolina on Saturday that Graham is "not worthy of this state ... the winds of change are blowing my friends," the Greenville News reported. Responding to the neck-and-neck South Carolina poll on Twitter, Harrison asked his supporters and potential voters to remember that any campaign is possible in the current political environment.

"Running against Senator Graham is a tough climb, but it's also a hill worth climbing. I've faced things folks have deemed impossible my entire life, and this is yet another journey where I prove that in America, the impossible is always possible," Harrison wrote.

Harrison declared his candidacy in June and has previously served as chair and senior counselor at the Democratic National Committee, as well as heading the Democratic Party of South Carolina. The Yale University graduate and South Carolina native was also an advisor to Congressman James Clyburn.

"It's an uphill battle, no question, but Jaime is uniquely qualified," said House Majority Whip Clyburn, told The Washington Post last week. "He has the kind of life experiences that allow him to really connect with ordinary people."

The Change Research surveyed 998 likely general election voters in the state of South Carolina between December 6-11. The poll found only 38 percent of likely voters said they will "definitely" or "probably" vote for Graham next November. Trump has higher favorability numbers than Graham, with the Republican senator holding onto the support of less than half of those surveyed. In terms of the presidential election, former Vice President Joe Biden leads the Democratic primary with 27 percent, followed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders with 20 percent of the vote.

jaime harrison lindsey graham sc
Lindsey Graham is statistically tied with Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison, with the staunch pro-Trump incumbent seeing his favorability ratings plummet among independent voters. ROY ROCHLIN / Contributor/Getty Images