TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Sustained by President Trump’s raucous backing, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) holds a 12-point lead over the Democratic nominee in South Carolina’s race for governor, according to a CNN poll out Monday.
In a matchup between Graham and Jean Hanlin, a former television news anchor with little name recognition, Graham leads 48 percent to 36 percent.
Republicans, however, have not expressed their strong preference for Graham. Just 27 percent said they would vote for him in the general election. Hanlin, on the other hand, is the favorite of Democrats, leading Republicans 52 percent to 34 percent, as well as independents by 31 percent to 19 percent.
But those results still stand in contrast to how Graham fares in head-to-head matchups with other well-known Democrats, including Gov. Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and potential 2020 presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
Hanlin now has more than $76,000 in cash on hand compared to $425,000 for Graham. Hanlin was not even in the race until June. Graham filed to run for reelection in April.
Former U.S. Attorney Joe Johnson is in a statistical tie for third place with Libertarian Jimmy Hill. Sen. Lindsey Graham, on the other hand, dominates within his party in South Carolina, a state with far fewer Democratic voters than elsewhere in the country.
In August, Graham led Warren by 18 points, while Trump’s approval rating was 65 percent.
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Video shows officer punching man after confrontation in Berkeley The poll surveyed 647 registered voters in South Carolina on Oct. 12-13. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percent.
Graham was one of Trump’s first supporters following his campaign, and since then he has been frequently portrayed as a modern-day George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan. Graham has also frequently teased that he may one day run for president. Last week, he appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and said that he would “think about it, yes.”
“I got my coat — I’m ready,” he said.
Graham has enjoyed deep support from Trump — two members of Graham’s family, Rep. Bob Inglis and Sen. Tim Scott, were Trump’s primary co-chairs in the Senate. Graham also co-wrote the legislation that created the Department of Homeland Security and the border wall with his Republican colleague, Sen. John McCain of Arizona. And after Trump’s surprise victory in 2016, Graham was highly critical of Democratic congressional leaders and accused Democrats of failing to protect American law enforcement. Graham was one of the only Republicans to vote for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in October 2008.
Graham also has been a reliable vote for the president. He has taken on more national Republicans, particularly with efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. Graham, a true red-state Republican, was one of the few Republican senators to support Trump’s foreign policy positions. And he had the highest ratings among a host of senators at the start of the Trump administration for committing to keep North Korea in check.
Graham returned to the Senate this year after spending the previous year as a member of the Trump administration, holding hearings on the CIA and later moving on to oversee the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. Graham is a close ally of the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and has recently expressed frustration with the White House.