More than $200 million went into the South Carolina Senate campaign with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison.
If the Democratic National Committee official and former state party leader succeeds in shaking his trump card, the Democrats are one step closer to regaining control of the upper house of Congress.
But if Harrison loses, the race will go down as one of the most expensive Senate losses in history, surpassing the candidacy of Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke for the 2018 Senate.
On October 14, Harrison raised about $131 million, compared to $78 million from Graham. In 2018, O’Rourke outbid Senator Ted Cruz nearly 2-1 with $80 million, compared to $45 million from Cruz. Nevertheless, O’Rourke lost by 2.6 points.
If the Democrats hope to regain the majority in the Senate, they need a net win of at least three seats. If President Donald Trump is re-elected, the Democrats would need to win four seats.
Even a loss at the ballot box for Harrison would still be a win for the state party, argued Laurin Manning Gandy, Democratic strategist of South Carolina.
“We probably won’t see such investments in our state party for the rest of our lives,” Gandy told Washington Newsday. “The South is heading for the blue, and South Carolina is no exception. We may be a few steps behind our neighbors, but we are moving in the same direction.
During the weekend on the campaign trail, Graham talked about his hand in endorsing Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett and said that women voters can enjoy such a win-while “following the traditional family structure.
“I want every young woman to know that there is a place for her in America if she is for life, if she embraces her religion and follows the traditional family structure,” Graham said. “That you can go anywhere, young lady.”
As for Texas in 2018, it is a long shot for the Democrats to win a seat in the Senate in South Carolina. But Harrison has seen an influx of support that surpasses Graham by more than $50 million this cycle, as polls indicate that the seat is within reach for the Democrats.
The election forecasters are equally divided. FiveThirtyEight tips the scales for Graham, while Cook’s political report sees the competition as “toss-up. Political strategists on both sides of the aisle in South Carolina were less optimistic about an uncertain victory in which Graham emerges as the loser.
Nevertheless, the GOP incumbent has sounded the alarm for more money. For months, Graham has been asking his supporters for donations, while at the same time pointing out the successful fundraising campaign of his Democratic opponent.
A loss for Harrison, according to South Carolina GOP strategist Walter Whetsell, would be due in part to the campaign’s spending tactics in the final days of the election, such as using its money advantage to pressure conservative voters to support the no longer running third party candidate Bill Bledsoe.
“Harrison had so much money to play with that he got too cute when he urged voters to support Bledsoe,” Whetsell told Washington Newsday.
In addition, Whetsell said Graham and his allies had reacted correctly by “wrapping the $130 million like a millstone around Harrison’s neck,” saying the money came from everywhere but South Carolina.
“This was an effective and credible success because voters here could literally not turn on the TV, open their Spotify playlist, log on to Facebook or play Candy Crush on their phone without having to endure a Jaime Harrison commercial,” Whetsell said.
The record amount of money that went into the race for the Senate of South Carolina is not the only one that surpasses that of O’Rourke’s high-profile bid: “In Arizona and Kentucky, mountains of campaign funds also went into the respective Senate elections of these states,” Whetsell said.
In Arizona, Democrat Mark Kelly raised nearly $90 million on October 14, compared to the nearly $57 million raised by GOP Senator Martha McSally. And in Kentucky, the numbers are almost identical: Democrat Amy McGrath collected $90 million for the $57 million of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
This year’s spending on political advertising also broke records. According to the company Advertising Analytics, during the 2016 election