U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who’s gone from being one of Donald Trump’s chief critics to being one of his biggest sycophants, may be out of office come January.
The South Carolina Republican is seeing a strong challenge from Democrat Jaime Harrison, with a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showing the two tied with 48 percent each.
“A victor by almost 16 points back in 2014, Senator Graham stares down the first real test of his Senate tenure. Outspent and accused by some of being a Trump apologist, he is in a precarious tie,” Quinnipiac polling analyst Tim Malloy said.
Graham called the poll “very flawed,” according to Fox News, saying it undercounted Republicans. But he and his team are still taking it seriously, he said.
The Quinnipiac poll is actually a highly respected and frequently cited one, and a poll by the university six weeks ago also showed the two candidates neck and neck. This came after Graham had a comfortable lead in major polls a few months ago.
Graham was highly critical of Trump when both sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Since then, however, Graham has gone from calling Trump a “kook” and a “bigot” to praising him as “a damn good president.” Meanwhile, nearly 200,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 under Trump's watch.
Harrison, a former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party who has also been a lobbyist and a U.S. House staffer, may be benefiting from Graham’s flip-flopping. Harrison raised $10.6 million in August, “more than Graham brought in for April, May and June combined, and more than most previous South Carolina candidates raised for their entire runs,” The Post and Courier of Charleston reports.
Graham has a solidly conservative record, including a string of low scores on the Human Rights Campaign's Congressional Scorecard on LGBTQ+ issues during his long tenure. He has been a senator since 2003 and was a U.S. representative for eight years before that. Harrison has committed to cosponsoring and voting for the Equality Act, and he has long been an LGBTQ+ ally, according to HRC, which has endorsed him. As director of floor operations and counsel in the U.S. House, he helped guide the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to passage in 2009.
Numerous Twitter users hailed Harrison’s poll results and called on fellow supporters to help put him over the top.