by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Sen. Lindsey Graham is facing the most serious political threat of his career while also leading one of the Senate’s most contentious and partisan battles over a Supreme Court nominee.
The South Carolina Republican announced hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will begin on Oct. 12, setting a schedule that will make it possible for Senate Republicans to hold a confirmation vote a week before the Nov. 3 election.
Graham, who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, will take center stage next week when Barrett’s confirmation process formally begins. At the same time, his Democratic opponent, Jaime Harrison, has suddenly closed a wide gap in the polls and is now tied with Graham, who just weeks ago was considered a shoo-in for a fourth term.
The latest Quinnipiac Poll shows Graham and Harrison each with 48% of the vote, a stunning shift from Graham’s solid lead last summer.
“Outspent and labeled by critics as an apologist for President Trump, Lindsey Graham is facing the fight of his political life,” Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy said.
Quinnipiac’s polling reflected several other recent surveys that found the two candidates in a dead heat.
Cook Political Report, one of the most trusted non-partisan election analysts, on Wednesday shifted the race into the “toss up” category, meaning it could go either way on Nov. 3.
“Ultimately, everything had to fall into place for Jaime Harrison, and it did,” Jessica Taylor, who edits the Senate and Governor’s races for Cook, said.
Successful fundraising has played a key role in Harrison’s climb in the polls. A former chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party and associate chair of the Democratic National Committee, Harrison has benefited from massive fundraising hauls that have enabled him to saturate the state with campaign advertising.