Immigration stance hurts Graham at home, poll finds

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP senators introduce bill targeting Palestinian 'martyr payments' Bipartisan senators earmark billion to support democracies globally Democrats see Christmas goal slipping away MORE’s (R-S.C.) approval rating is taking a pounding in his home state as a result of his strong support for a bipartisan immigration reform bill, a new poll showed Friday.

Graham’s approval rating has sunk to 31 percent and he has a 40 percent disapproval rating, according to a poll released Friday by Atlanta-based InsiderAdvantage. The new poll points to Graham’s support for the Senate immigration bill, which includes a path to citizenship, as a likely reason for his apparent unpopularity.

His disapproval among Republicans is higher — 46 percent — than among Democrats —30 percent. Both give him an approval rating in the low 30s.

Only 21 percent of respondents approved of the immigration bill, while 63 percent disapproved. When asked whether they approved of Graham’s “efforts to reach a consensus among his colleagues” to pass the bill, 24 percent approved and 51 percent disapproved, including 57 percent of Republicans.

“The only thing I know about InsiderAdvantage polls is they claim 40 percent of Americans want both President Bush and Dick Cheney impeached,” said Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop. “Having said that, Lindsey Graham has never governed by the polls — real or bogus — and is not about to start now. When South Carolinians are fairly informed about the immigration reform proposal, there is majority support for its provisions.”

While rumors of a primary against Graham have been tempered by last week’s indictment of state Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, the poll shows the senator might be more vulnerable to an intra-party challenge than ever.

Graham has often been the target of primary rumors, and a November 2006 poll showed him performing better with Democrats. But in that poll, his overall approval rating was at 56 percent.

Ravenel was the subject of a drafting movement until he was indicted last week on drug charges. He had downplayed talk of a primary but remained the most talked-about potential challenger.

InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt Towery said the “question about Graham’s role leads me to believe that there may be a question in the minds of those who have in the past supported the senator. They aren’t sure what to make of his actions.”

The poll surveyed 790 registered South Carolina voters this week and has a margin of error of 3 percent.

Graham has yet to draw a major opponent from either party and is not thought of as a top Democratic target.

National Democrats do not have any potential candidates at this point. National Republicans expressed confidence in Graham.

“We have every confidence that Sen. Graham will be reelected to the U.S. Senate in 2008,” said a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Rebecca Fisher.