Is South Carolina really in play for the Democrats?

Is South Carolina really in play for the Democrats?October 1, 2020

It’s hard to say how much faith to put in specific polls during what is arguably the craziest election season in American history. With that caveat, however, I’ll admit my eyebrows marched solidly up my forehead when I saw the latest Quinnipiac University poll, which puts Joe Biden and President Trump in a virtual tie in the Deep South, dark-red state of South Carolina.

The poll, which surveyed more than 1,120 South Carolinians between Sept. 23 and Sept. 27, shows Trump leading Biden by just 1 percentage point, 48%-47%, buoyed in large part by white voters and voters over 65 years old. That 1-point lead is even more incredible given the poll’s 2.9% margin of error, and in light of Trump’s nearly 15-point victory over Hillary Clinton in the state in 2016. Indeed, that year, FiveThirtyEight had Trump leading Clinton by a solid 7 points in its pre-election polling average.

Deeper results in the recent Quinnipiac poll indicate just how tight South Carolina race truly is, with Trump and Biden again virtually tied when it comes to unfavorability (48%-49%, respectively) among likely voters. Meanwhile, Biden leads Trump by a single point (48%-47%) on the question of who voters think would be better at handling health care.

Incredibly, however, the presidential election might be South Carolina’s second-most exciting race this year, as incumbent Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is struggling to fend off a surging challenge from Democrat Jaime Harrison. According to the Quinnipiac poll, the pair are currently tied at 47% support apiece, with Harrison leading Graham in both favorability and honesty among likely voters.

“There hasn’t been a Democrat elected to the Senate from South Carolina since 1998,” Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy explained in a press release accompanying Wednesday’s polling data. “Outspent and labeled by critics as an apologist for President Trump, Lindsey Graham is facing the fight of his political life.”

Meanwhile, although it seems as if Biden has an uphill fight on his hands if he wants to win the Palmetto State in November, the fact that he’s this close, this near to Election Day, should be enough to scare even the most optimistic Trump campaign officials.

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