Aug 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Cook Political Report downgrades Lindsey Graham's re-election chances

Lindsey Graham.
Photo: Carolyn Kaster/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The Cook Political Report on Monday moved its forecast of South Carolina's Senate race, which features Lindsey Graham (R) seeking re-election, from "likely Republican" to "lean Republican."

The state of play: The race has tightened as Jaime Harrison, Graham's Democratic challenger, has proven himself to be a fundraising contender amid a favorable electoral climate for Democrats, driven by the coronavirus pandemic and a renewed focus on racial justice, per an analysis by Cook's Senate editor Jessica Taylor.

  • A Harrison victory would mark the first time that two Black senators occupied both of a state's seats simultaneously. Sen. Tim Scott (R) is South Carolina's other senator.

The big picture: Black voters in South Carolina were a key driver of Joe Biden's primary victory in the state, which ultimately propelled him to convincingly win the Democratic nomination. Biden's pick of Kamala Harris as his vice presidential nominee could further energize Black voters in the general election.

  • That outcome could help drive additional turnout and enthusiasm down the ballot for Harrison.

Yes, but: Graham is still definitively the favorite. South Carolina hasn't elected a Democrat to the Senate in over 20 years.

The bottom line: "[I]t’s clear this race is becoming more competitive, and Graham faces an incredibly strong challenge," Taylor writes.

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