As Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham came under fire Thursday morning for holding a contested vote to advance U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett to the full chamber, new polling showed Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison with a narrow lead over the South Carolina Republican.
Early mail-in and in-person voting is already underway in the Palmetto State for next month's general election, in which Graham is trying to keep a Senate seat he has held since 2003, after serving four terms in the House. The Morning Consult poll signals Harrison has a shot at ousting the GOP senator.
Of the more than 900 South Carolina voters surveyed by Morning Consult from October 11 to October 20, 47% said they would vote for Harrison while only 45% chose Graham instead. The Democrat's lead falls within the reported margin of error, but still provoked celebration from Harrison and critics of Graham:
We've got something even better than coffee to wake you up this morning.
— Jaime Harrison (@harrisonjaime) October 22, 2020
Wow. Would be so wild if Harrison pulled this off! https://t.co/UcuM5ro2Jk
— Krystal Ball (@krystalball) October 22, 2020
According to Newsweek, which noted that a New York Times/Sienna College survey showed Graham ahead by six points:
A study conducted by Data for Progress found the two rivals receiving similar support, with Harrison ahead by just one point. According to that poll, 47% of respondents said they'd vote for Harrison if the election were held today, while 46% backed Graham. It surveyed 801 likely voters in South Carolina from October 8 to October 11 and reported a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
A third poll conducted by GBAO Strategies and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign found Harrison holding a similar one-point lead. Forty-eight percent said they'd vote for Harrison, compared to 47% who chose Graham. Eight hundred likely voters in South Carolina were surveyed in this poll from September 24 to September 28, and the poll reported a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
The Morning Consult results circulated as Graham—who has led the Judiciary Committee since last year—and the panel's other 11 Republicans advanced President Donald Trump's third Supreme Court nominee in defiance of their own quorum rules; the committee's Democratic members boycotted the vote.
"Senate Republicans believe 'advice and consent' means performing the theater of a hearing without scrutinizing the nominee in the least," Alliance for Justice president Nan Aron said in a statement Wednesday. "Today's vote shows Senate Republicans are already confident that she will advance their agenda."
"We know that Amy Coney Barrett is an ultraconservative who will erode our critical rights and freedoms," Aron added. "Senate Republicans voted for her knowing she will rule against access to healthcare, reproductive freedom, and democracy itself. She will cause irreparable harm to the lives of the American people."
BREAKING: Chairman @LindseyGrahamSC just broke committee rules to advance Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. No Democrats were present. They will do anything to jam through this nominee to rip away health care amid a pandemic. It's disgraceful.
— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) October 22, 2020
.@senjudiciary Republicans just illegitimately rammed through Trump's anti-civil rights Supreme Court nominee. She's refused to answer Qs about LGBTQ rights, repro rights, & healthcare. But her record speaks for itself.#BlockBarrett
— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) October 22, 2020
Graham—who defiantly declared late Wednesday that "Judge Barrett deserves a vote and she will receive a vote"—was blasted by critics last week for flouting the panel's rules to schedule a vote on the nominee as well as for violating U.S. law by soliciting donations while inside a federal building.
The senator is also facing criticism for skipping a debate with Harrison that had been scheduled for Wednesday night. At a rally earlier in the week, Graham reportedly said he was "headed back to Washington" and added, "I'm not coming back until Amy Coney Barrett is a Supreme Court justice."
While Graham's campaign told a local television news station that the debate would need to be postponed due to the Senate schedule, Harrison took to Twitter Thursday morning to accuse the senator of trying to cancel the event:
.@LindseyGrahamSC is trying to cancel our last debate. Why?
Let's go to the tape. pic.twitter.com/SCgMTdZciL
— Jaime Harrison (@harrisonjaime) October 22, 2020
"This is probably the most historic Senate race in the history of this state, and to have Sen. Graham ducking and dodging is really sad, but it's a testament to who he is," Harrison said on a SiriusXM show Wednesday. "He believes that he represents the interest in Washington, D.C. instead of representing the interests of the people in South Carolina. And that's why he's on the verge of getting that one-way ticket back home."
In addition to Harrison raising a record-setting $57 million in the third quarter—compared with Graham's $28 million—the Democrat has picked up some major endorsements, including former President Barack Obama, who released an ad urging South Carolinians to vote for "my friend Jaime Harrison."
.@BarackObama knows a thing or two about being an underdog. He also knows about winning.
So everybody listen to President Obama and get out and VOTE! pic.twitter.com/X2O8uOm0Cc
— Jaime Harrison (@harrisonjaime) October 19, 2020
"Barack Obama knows a thing or two about being an underdog," said Harrison. "He also knows about winning."