It was not that long ago you could find profiles and columns touting the chances of Democrat Jaime Harrison achieving the biggest upset win of the cycle against Lindsey Graham in South Carolina’s Senate race. About two weeks ago, I noted he appeared to be the genuine Great Southern Democratic Hope, compared to the likes of Amy McGrath.
But the buzz around Harrison has gotten much quieter in the past two weeks. Over at FiveThirtyEight, Graham is given a 78 percent chance of winning. (In early October, Graham’s odds dipped down to 75 percent.) The Daily Beast writes a new glowing profile with a more cautionary tone about the Democrat’s odds of winning: “If Harrison pulls off a victory this week, he will need every last variable to go his way.”
The polling in South Carolina hasn’t changed that much. The final Morning Consult poll, out today, puts Graham ahead by 2 points; their mid-October poll had Harrison ahead by 2 points. The East Carolina poll put Graham ahead by 2 points. Starboard Communications puts Graham ahead by 9 points. Probably the survey that changed the conventional wisdom the post was the Siena/New York Times poll putting Graham up by 6 points.
All of this is as Harrison has raised, and spent, more than any other Senate candidate in U.S. history — “as of Oct. 14, Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison had raised more than $108 million and spent more than $105 million in his quest to unseat U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham” with another $13 million in outside spending hitting Graham.
In short, Harrison has enjoyed every conceivable fundraising advantage, his commercials dominate the airwaves, and he still appears to be narrowly trailing. For Democrats and their allies outside the state, a slew of other candidates in reddish states appear closer to winning and a better use of their last-minute efforts, such as Theresa Greenfield in Iowa, Jon Ossoff in Georgia, and Sara Gideon in Maine. (FiveThirtyEight actually gives Barbara Bollier in Kansas a 23 percent chance of winning, one point better than Harrison.)
We won’t know until all the votes are counted, and Harrison could still win. Even if Harrison didn’t win, he made a GOP incumbent who ran for president hustle and sweat to win in a deep red state — while spending a record amount of money raised from Democrats out of the state who utterly loathe the GOP senator. In other words . . . he’ll be Beto O’Rourke, 2.0.