New polls show tight races for Graham, McConnell

New polls by Quinnipiac University show Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' Capito grills EPA nominee on '#ResistCapitalism' tweet Hassan launches first ad of reelection bid focusing on veterans' issues MORE (R-Ky.) and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right GOP senators unveil bill designating Taliban as terrorist organization MORE (R-S.C.) in tight races.

The Republicans are favorites in their deep-red states, but the tight polls are likely to give Democrats more optimism about their chances of taking the Senate, while increasing the nervousness in GOP circles.

The Quinnipiac University poll shows Graham running neck-and-neck with Democrat Jaime HarrisonJaime HarrisonTop Democrats tout California recall with an eye toward 2022 20 years later: Washington policymakers remember 9/11 Democrats, Planned Parenthood say reproductive health care is on 2022 ballot MORE. Each candidate garnered 44 percent support, suggesting a tightening race in the deep-red Palmetto State.

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In Kentucky, McConnell leads his Democratic opponent Amy McGrath 49 percent to 44 percent. McConnell won his last reelection bid in 2014 by more than 14 points.

Quinnipiac also found Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWelcome to ground zero of climate chaos A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate Bipartisan blip: Infrastructure deal is last of its kind without systemic change MORE (R-Maine) trailing her Democratic opponent. Democratic Maine state House Speaker Sara Gideon is leading Collins 47 percent to 43 percent.

A Democrat hasn’t won a Senate seat in South Carolina since 1998, when former Sen. Fritz Hollings, a conservative Democrat who served in the chamber for nearly 40 years, won his final term.

Despite the state’s conservative electoral history, however, Democrats are making a serious run there this year. Harrison, a former chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, raised $14 million in the second quarter of the year, beating Graham by more than $5.6 million. 

Both Graham and McConnell are underperforming President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE in their respective states. In South Carolina, for instance, Trump leads presumptive Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Democrats advance tax plan through hurdles MORE 47 percent to 42 percent, performing 3 points better than Graham. 

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Likewise, in Kentucky, Trump garners 50 percent support to Biden’s 41 percent, just slightly higher than McConnell. McGrath, meanwhile, polls 3 points higher than Biden. 

In Maine, Collins and Gideon both carry solid support among voters from their respective parties, while independents remain largely split: 46 percent favor Gideon, while 42 favor Collins. 

Gideon has an edge in favorability. Forty percent of those surveyed gave her positive reviews compared to 35 percent who see her unfavorably. Collins’s favorability, meanwhile, is underwater at 42 percent to 49 percent, according to the Quinnipiac poll. 

Collins is among this year's top targets for Democrats, who see her defeat as crucial to their quest for a Senate majority. They need to flip three or four seats in the chamber this year to capture control, depending on which party controls the White House, and are also targeting vulnerable GOP incumbents in states including Arizona, Colorado and North Carolina.

Trump is underperforming Collins in Maine. While Collins garners 43 percent support in the state to Gideon’s 47 percent, Trump has only 37 percent to Biden’s 52 percent. 

The Quinnipiac poll is based on interviews with 807 registered voters in Maine, 914 in South Carolina and 909 in Kentucky. For the Maine results, the margin of error is 3.5 percentage points; for the South Carolina results, the margin of error is 3.2 percentage points; and for Kentucky, the margin of error is 3.3 percentage points.