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.

Go deeper

Dems on Senate Judiciary tell Graham to delay filling Ginsburg's seat

Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) speaking in August.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), called on Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to delay filling Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme Court until after the presidential inauguration.

What it matters: Democrats cited the Senate GOP's refusal to consider President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland following Justice Antonin Scalia's death in 2016. Republicans at that time claimed voters should choose the president and the president should select the justice, since the vacancy occurred during an election year.

Susan Collins says Senate should postpone Supreme Court vote

Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Tom Williams/Getty Images

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said in a statement Saturday she believes whoever is elected in the 2020 presidential race should pick the nominee to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat.

Why it matters: Collins will be key in how the nomination process plays out. As one of the most centrist Senate Republicans, whether or not the Senate confirms Trump's SCOTUS nominee could hinge on her vote.

A court fight for the ages

The flag flies at half-staff as people mourn on the Supreme Court steps last night. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Ruth Bader Ginsburg — feminist icon, legal giant, toast of pop culture — left this statement with granddaughter Clara Spera as cancer closed in: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

The big picture: For all that the nation owes "Notorious RBG" — the hip-hop-inspired nickname she enjoyed and embraced — Republicans are planning to do their best to be sure her robe is quickly filled, despite that last wish, with her ideological polar opposite.