Cook shifts South Carolina Senate race toward Lindsey Graham opponent

The Cook Political Report on Monday shifted its outlook for the South Carolina Senate race toward Democrat Jaime Harrison, bringing Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate GOP aims to confirm Trump court pick by Oct. 29: report The Hill's Campaign Report: GOP set to ask SCOTUS to limit mail-in voting Senate GOP sees early Supreme Court vote as political booster shot MORE’s (R-S.C.) reelection bid into more competitive territory.

The nonpartisan election handicapper moved the race from its "likely" Republican column into the "lean" Republican column. That means that Graham still has the advantage, but his seat has come into play for Democrats.

A handful of factors contributed to the rating change. Harrison has nearly matched Graham dollar for dollar in fundraising this cycle, raking in $29 million to the GOP incumbent’s $30.9 million.


At the same time, the national political climate has shifted in a way that appears favorable to Harrison, a former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman and the first African American to serve in that role.

“Racial injustice protests that swept the nation in early June also give Harrison, who is Black, further motivation for turning out African-American voters in the state,” Jessica Taylor, the Senate and governor’s editor for The Cook Political Report, wrote in an analysis of the South Carolina race.

“Were Harrison to upset Graham, South Carolina — the first state to secede from the Union in 1860 — would become the first state in history to have two Black senators serving at the same time, joining Republican Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottAuthor Ryan Girdusky: RNC worked best when highlighting 'regular people' as opposed to 'standard Republicans' Now is the time to renew our focus on students and their futures GOP lobbyists pleasantly surprised by Republican convention MORE.”

Recent polling also suggests a tightening race between Graham and Harrison. A Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this month showed the two candidates knotted at 44 percent, and other surveys from Democratic-leaning firms found Harrison trailing Graham by narrow margins.

Graham will still be tough for Democrats to ouster. He won his last reelection bid in 2014 by nearly 16 points, and President TrumpDonald John TrumpOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Pelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate MORE carried the state in 2016 by more than 14 points. 

But FiveThirtyEight’s polling average of the presidential race in South Carolina shows Trump’s lead over presumptive Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate Trump attacks Omar for criticizing US: 'How did you do where you came from?' MORE narrowing to about 6.5 points. Biden already does well with Black voters, who make up more than half of the state’s Democratic electorate, and Democrats hope that his choice of Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisButtigieg stands in as Pence for Harris's debate practice First presidential debate to cover coronavirus, Supreme Court Harris joins women's voter mobilization event also featuring Pelosi, Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda MORE (D-Calif.) as his running mate will further help boost turnout among Black voters, especially in the South.