At this point, only three states saw incumbent Senators being defeated: Doug Jones (D-AL), Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Cory Gardner (R-CO). Under Georgia law, since both of their Senate races, the regular cycle campaign and the special election, failed to produce a majority winner, a runoff election will be held for each position on January 5th.
In races of note, Maine Sen. Susan Collins (R) defied pollsters projecting a Democratic victory for state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D) and won by nine percentage points. Despite over $100 million being spent against both Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), both were re-elected with victory percentages exceeding 58 and 54%, respectively. Democratic Sen. Gary Peters (MI) scored a close win over GOP challenger John James; Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Steve Daines (R-MT) recorded strong victories despite polling suggesting that both could lose.
In the four open seat campaigns, the incumbent party won each. The new Senators are Roger Marshall (R-KS), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY).
Two races, in addition to both Georgia Senate seats going to runoffs, remain uncalled but with a clear trend. With only 50% of the votes counted in Alaska, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) has a strong 62-32% lead. In North Carolina, with the post-election ballot reception period closing on November 12th, Sen. Thom Tillis (R) looks to have a small lead that won’t be surpassed, again despite polling projecting a Democratic victory for party nominee Cal Cunningham.
Assuming the uncalled races remain Republican, the GOP will have a 50-48 advantage heading into the Georgia runoffs, meaning they will retain the majority with a win in at least one of the two Senate races to be decided January 5th.
A one day flash tracking poll (10/26; 800 SC likely voters) gives Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) a nine-point, 52-43%, margin over former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison (D), which is by far the largest lead for either candidate since February. Similar information needs to surface in order for this margin to be verified, however.
The first two general election polls were released in the Charleston-anchored 1st District of South Carolina, and they couldn’t be more different. Last week, the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research firm for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (10/5-7; 475 SC-1 likely voters; 75 over-sample of African American voters; live interview) found freshman Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-Charleston) developing a large lead over state Rep. Nancy Mace (R-Daniel Island), 55-42%.
Yesterday, the Strategic National polling firm countered those numbers with a completely different take. According to their survey (10/14-16; 400 SC-1 likely voters), Ms. Mace has a two-point 47-45% slight edge over the freshman incumbent. This race is generally considered a toss-up.
After Siena College/New York Times and the Morning Consult firm both released data last week posting Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) to respective six-point leads, the brilliant corners Research & Strategies firm (10/11-16; 525 SC likely voters; live interview) found Democrat Jaime Harrison rebounding. Mr. Harrison, who clearly leads the money race with $86 million raised for the campaign, is up two percentage points, 47-45%, on the brilliant corners survey. We can expect many more polls coming from this exciting Senate race in the closing weeks.
Earlier in the week, we reported on a South Carolina Senate poll that found Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) taking as much as a six-point lead for the first time since July. The Morning Consult (10/2-11; 903 NC likely voters; online through a pre-selected sampling universe) survey found Sen. Graham claiming a 48-42% lead over former South Carolina Democratic Party chair Jaime Harrison who has raised an incredible $80+ million for his campaign. Then, Data for Progress countered with their survey (10/8-11; 801 SC likely voters; online) returning the race to a one-point contest, 47-46%, this time in Mr. Harrison’s favor.
Yesterday, however, we see a confirmation of the six-point margin, this time from Siena College/New York Times, an A+ rated pollster according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical site. Siena/NYT (10/9-15; 605 SC likely voters; live interview) delivers a 46-40% split in Sen. Graham’s favor. The South Carolina race is a must-win for the GOP.
Despite most polling yielding toss-up results between Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) and former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison, the Morning Consult series polling (10/2-11; 903 NC likely voters; online through a pre-selected sampling universe) finds a result exceeding the polling margin of error. MC projects Sen. Graham to be holding a 48-42% lead, the largest advantage the three-term incumbent has enjoyed since July.
While we haven’t seen a public financial disclosure here since June 30th as the Federal Election Commission books close on the third quarter today, it is clear the money war in South Carolina is out of control. At the end of June, both Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) and Democrat Jaime Harrison had raised in the $30 million range, with each gaining the benefit of about $2 million in independent expenditures either for their own candidacy or attacking their opponent.
The Super PAC Security is Strength had long ago reserved an additional $2.6 million in media time to help Sen. Graham, but now the Senate Majority PAC is committing a new $6.5 million to assist Mr. Harrison. Once the major parties report their expenditures, it will be clear that combined spending here will likely top $80 million in a state of just seven congressional districts. All polls since the beginning of August have shown the two candidates within three percentage points of each other.
While the aforementioned states are returning very different results through multiple polls, the South Carolina data has been very consistent since July. The race between Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) and challenger Jaime Harrison (D), the former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, has hovered within three percentage points since the end of that month. The latest Morning Consult survey (9/11-20; 764 SC likely voters; online from pre-determined sampling group) is no exception.
Here, MC again finds the two candidates in a virtual tie, with Sen. Graham holding the slimmest of leads, 46-45%. It is clear that Sen. Graham will attempt to use his position as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings as a way to improve his standing among Republican voters, a group with which he runs seven points behind President Trump on the party loyalty factor.
Responding to several September polls that find the race between Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) and former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison falling within the polling margin of error, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced yesterday that they will invest “seven figures” into the state to help their party nominee. According to the Daily Kos Elections website, only one other outside group has entered this race, the Strength in Security PAC who reserved $1.6 million in television time months ago in order to support Sen. Graham.
Quinnipiac University is the latest to survey the South Carolina Senate race (7/20-8/3; 914 SC registered voters) and sees Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) and former South Carolina Democratic state chairman Jaime Harrison (D) landing in a flat tie, 44-44%. Including the latest Q-Poll, six surveys from a half-dozen different pollsters have been publicly released of this race since late May, and all but one shows the contest languishing within four percentage points. The only outlier is the Gravis Marketing poll (7/17; 604 SC likely voters) that gave Sen. Graham a seven-percentage point advantage.
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