South Carolina Senate Race, A Rerun Of The 2018 Texas Senate Election?
On November 3rd, South Carolinians will vote to elect their U.S. Senator. The incumbent from the Republican party, Senator Lindsey Graham, will be up against the Democratic nominee, Jamie Harrison. The senatorial race has caught national attention over the last few weeks. The media attention of the senatorial race has partly increased because of Jamie Harrison’ record break fundraising numbers, and partly due to Senator Graham’s response to his opponents fundraising efficacy.
Jamie Harrison made the record for raising highest amount of funds in a quarter for a U.S. Congressional Campaign. Harrison raised $57 million dollars in three months, surpassing Beto O’Rourke’s record of $38 million dollars in the 2018 election cycle. Harrison may have also benefitted from his opponent’s decision to assist President Trump with efforts to confirm Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement. Senator Graham had previously pledged that he would not support President Trump’s efforts to fill in a vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States if the vacancy was to occur during an election year. Senator Graham subscribed the change in his stance on the issue of vacancy on democrats’ action during Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s hearings.
In the wake of Harrison’s record shattering fundraising numbers, Senator Lindsey Graham has been requesting his supporters to make donations to his campaign. On Sean Hannity’s show, Senator Graham said that, his opponent was “killing him financially”. He requested Hannity’s viewer to head to his website, and make campaign contributions. Senator Graham made another plea to voters for campaign donations as he addressed the media post the judiciary committee’s hearing for Amy Cooney Barrett’s nomination. Some legal experts are arguing that Senator Graham may have violated an ethics code, as he was present in a federal building when he elicited for campaign donations. However, Senator Graham’s constant plea for campaign donations reaffirms the success of his opponent’s fundraising efforts.
Democratic candidates, in general, have been very effective in their ability to raise campaign funding. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Democratic nominee for President, has out-raised President Trump. In the last of quarter of eight competitive U.S. senate races, democratic candidates have collectively raised more than $260 million whereas, the Republican candidates have only managed to raise little less than $100 million. However, the democratic candidates’ effectiveness in fundraising efforts has failed to help them attain electoral successes. The reason for democratic candidates’ lack of success in elections, even with huge sum in campaign chests, lies with the allocation of campaign funding. Instead of channeling the money to tightly contested races, democrats have been pouring money in to races that are taking place in Republican stronghold. The democrats did this with the Texas senate race in 2018, and they may be repeating the same error of judgement this election cycle in the South Carolina senate race.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the democratic candidate, Beto O’Rourke, spent and raised nearly 80 million dollars in the Texas senate race of 2018. Whereas, the republican incumbent, Senator Ted Cruz, spent 45 million dollars and ended up winning the election. The election, at that time, was receiving national attention, and this probably may have contributed to Beto O’ Rourke’s ability to raise record breaking campaign contributions. Even though, Beto O’Rourke had outspent the Senator Ted Cruz by $35 million dollars, he ended up losing by more than a million votes. Texas and South Carolina, are both considered to be red states, states that predominantly vote for Republican candidates.
Even though, South Carolina is a red state recent polls have indicated that the democratic candidate has a lead over the republican candidate. Certain polls show that Jamie Harrison has a four-point lead over Senator Graham. It is difficult to comment on the accuracy of these polls as there were polls that indicated Senator Cruz trailing Beto O’ Rourke. A Texas Tribune poll showed Beto leading Cruz by 2 points.
If Jamie Harrison is successful in defeating his Republican opponent on November 3rd then Republicans will have to come up with strategies to match the fundraising abilities of democrats in the next election cycle. However, if Senator Graham is reelected then, Democrats would have to determine whether pouring money in to races taking place in Republican strongholds is the best course of action?
The author is a graduate student of U.S. Foreign policy at The George Washington University.