Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) leads Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison by 6 points, according to a Morning Consult poll released Tuesday.
Graham leads Harrison 48 percent to 42 percent in the poll, the first in several weeks not to show the race as a dead heat. The survey was conducted this month.
The South Carolina Republican has been a top target for Democrats, galvanized by his staunch support of President Trump and his status as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a perch from which he vocally supported Trump's second Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, amid a bitter confirmation fight.
Graham is in the spotlight again as the Judiciary Committee holds confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Trump's nominee to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and his lead in the poll suggests the fight over the Supreme Court seat may be mobilizing some GOP voters.
Previous Morning Consult polling in South Carolina conducted in mid-September, shortly before Ginsburg died, had Harrison and Graham essentially tied.
Harrison has smashed fundraising records in the race, bringing in $57 million in the final full quarter of his campaign. The number is an all-time single-quarter record for a Senate candidate, outflanking the $38 million then-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) raised in the third quarter of his 2018 campaign challenging Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
Graham himself has invoked Harrison’s fundraising hauls in appeals to supporters, telling Fox News host Sean Hannity last month, “I’m getting overwhelmed. ... They’re killing me, money-wise.”
Last week, the nonpartisan election handicapper Cook Political Report shifted its rating of the South Carolina race from “lean Republican” to “toss-up.”
“Many Republicans have privately voiced frustrations that Graham’s campaign didn’t take the challenge from Harrison — a charismatic 44-year-old African-American former state party chairman who tells a compelling story of growing up with a teen mother and being raised by his grandparents in impoverished Orangeburg — seriously enough from the get-go,” Jessica Taylor, the Senate and governors editor for The Cook Political Report, wrote in an analysis last week.
The poll surveyed 903 likely South Carolina voters Oct. 2-11. It has a 3-point margin of error.