This November, Democrats across the country are preparing to take on Donald Trump for the presidency — but they’re also preparing to challenge some of his Congressional minions like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). On MSNBC this weekend, Graham’s presumed general election challenger Jaime Harrison revealed new information about just how precarious that the Trump shill’s position really is. In short, in the South Carolina Democratic primary held over the weekend, turnout surged dramatically, with around half a million voters casting their ballots this time around. That’s terrible news for a politician like Graham who might run his re-election hopes on a partially lethargic or otherwise disenfranchised electorate.
Democrats are energized — they’ve been for awhile, and it’s not slowing down. In conversation with host Joy-Ann Reid, Harrison commented:
‘The thing that really surprised me, Joy, was the turnout numbers here in South Carolina. We almost eclipsed — we’ll get the final word maybe today or tomorrow — the historic turnout we saw in the 2008 election with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. I never thought we would get that close, we far surpassed what we saw in 2016.’
Harrison has for awhile been a perceived underdog in the race — the last time that South Carolina even went for a Democratic presidential candidate in the general election was when Jimmy Carter was on the ballot decades ago. Harrison continued:
‘The person who should be — probably had nightmares last night — is Lindsey Graham because the turnout, particularly in some of these traditionally Republican counties was unbelievable. It says to me that this new south is emerging and as I’ve been saying so much, South Carolina is going to be the tip of the spear.’
Elsewhere, Harrison has tied his campaign to deeply set issues. At one recent Charleston campaign event, he shared with the crowd:
‘I can tell you as a black person in South Carolina whose grandparents grew up through Jim Crow, when you lose the courts and justice no longer becomes just, we’re in a world of trouble. And we are on the verge of that. And that’s why this election is the most consequential election of our life.’
There hasn’t yet been a whole lot of polling of the presumed general election match-up between Harrison and Graham, but what has been done has shown encouraging signs. A Change Research poll conducted late last year had Harrison just two percent behind Graham. A more recent NBC News/ Marist poll had Graham leading by seventeen percent, but a full seven percent of voters said they were undecided, and two percent chose the “other” option, placing the two candidates within striking distance of each other.
In the meantime, Harrison has been doing very well with fundraising. In the last quarter of 2019, he raised nearly $3.6 million, although that was less than what Graham pulled in. Still, the sum put him among the top fundraising Democratic Senate candidates in the country, surpassed only by Arizona’s Mark Kelly and Kentucky’s Amy McGrath, the latter of whom is taking on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Currently, the Cook Political Report rates three GOP-held Senate seats as toss-ups, including those held by Maine’s Susan Collins, Colorado’s Cory Gardner, — and Arizona’s Martha McSally.