South Carolina has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1976. With 2020 featuring the presidential race at the top of the ballot, Democratic candidates will face a tough road ahead in the state.
Last week, the former chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, Jaime Harrison, announced his candidacy to challenge three-term senator Lindsey Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. While Harrison has generated a bit of buzz surrounding his campaign, it will be a difficult sell in a state that has not had a Democrat win statewide office since 2006.
To make matters more difficult for the challenger, Lindsey Graham enjoys one of the highest approval ratings of any Republican Senator, and only about a third of his constituents disapprove of the job that he is doing in Washington.
There is some hope for Harrison, however. As an associate chair for the DNC, he has a lot of political connections that can lend support in this race. He was able to raise $270,000 in the first twenty-four hours after announcing his campaign, which is an appreciable sum. This still pales in comparison to the $3.2 million cash on hand that Graham has in his war chest, or the $11.4 Graham spent on his last Senate election in 2014. To put it simply, Jaime Harrison is likely to be drastically outgunned in this election. That does not mean that he can not pull off an upset, but it will be extremely difficult and will require his campaign to get the most out of every dollar that they spend.
In the 2018 Missouri Senate election, Republican challenger Josh Hawley was outspent nearly four to one by the two-term incumbent Claire McCaskill. Even with this tremendous disparity, Hawley pulled a sizable majority in the general election. The difference between that election and the race in South Carolina is the political landscape of the electorate. Hawley ran a conservative campaign in a conservative state and pushed the Kavanaugh hearings to the forefront of his messaging. He took every opportunity to criticize Senator McCaskill’s handling of the nomination process and turned that into perhaps the largest issue in the race. If Harrison wants any chance at a competitive race, he should use his limited funds to target a particular issue and present the people of South Carolina with a referendum on that issue.
Calls for Trump's impeachment are getting louder, so it make sense for Harrison to turn that into the biggest issue of his campaign.
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