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Poll: Graham Has a Lead, but It's Complicated

Voters lack enthusiasm for their incumbent, and the undecideds could affect race
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2020 4:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – Sen. Lindsey Graham is up 6 percentage points over Democrat Jaime Harrison, a New York Times/Siena College poll shows, though there are several unsettled factors that could move that needle one way or the other. One of them is the finding that 12% of African American voters are still undecided, the Times reports—a block that could swing toward Harrison, who is Black. Black voters are one-fourth of the total in the state, up from 19% in 2016. The dust hasn't settled from the dispute over whether to move ahead with Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination for the Supreme Court, but there's evidence it could help Graham. The poll found strong support for her nomination in South Carolina—59%—that was increasing as the hearings progressed.

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Despite Graham's 46%-41% lead, enthusiasm wasn't high, with 26% saying they viewed him very favorably. Even among Republicans, that rating was only 54%, per the Times. There's a third name on the ballot: Bill Bledsoe. The Constitution Party nominee has withdrawn from the race, but he's still on the ballot. Harrison is buying ads touting Bledsoe's conservatism, hoping he pulls some votes from the incumbent. Graham also could get a boost from President Trump being at the top of the ballot. Trump has a bigger lead over Democrat Joe Biden in the state than Graham has over Harrison, at 49%-41%. And enthusiasm for the president is higher; 40% of South Carolina voters view Trump very favorably. The poll's margin of error is 4.5 percentage points. (Harrison just broke a fundraising record.)

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