South Carolina U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham faces a primary challenge from five GOP candidates getting support from the most conservative wing of his party. Tea Party groups disagree with the senior senator’s willingness to compromise on certain issues with Democrats.
The results of the latest Winthrop Poll show Graham has ample support to weather the coming storm. He will have to tread carefully, however, said poll director Scott Huffmon.
“He’s going to have to lay down a strategy of either trying to scrpae off just enough Tea Party support to weaken their support for the other candidates, or turning out the folks in the party who aren’t as quite as Tea Party friendly. Trying to walk both of those roads at the same time at some point is going to be difficult,” Huffmon told South Carolina Radio Network.
The survey of likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina was conducted from Feb. 16-23, 2014.
While Graham’s level of support stands at 45 percent, Huffmon noted Graham is not in “real trouble” simply because his share is below the 50 percent run-off threshold. Yet, 35 percent remain undecided. The vast majority of undecided could be distributed to the other candidates and, assuming Graham gets some share, it could easily be enough to put him over 50 percent, the political science professor noted.
Huffman said Graham does not sit significantly higher than the threshold, however, so the race is not “completely safe” for Graham.
Huffmon said it would be a mistake to assume that all Tea Party-aligned voters are against Graham, who still garners roughly a third of their support.
The poll also gauged the support of Graham’s challengers, which ranges from 2.9 to 8.5 percent for State Sen. Lee Bright of Spartanburg, Easley businessman Richard Cash, Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor and Charleston public relations executive Nancy Mace.
Det Bowers has filed paperwork with the FEC but had not raised money when the survey was designed, so he was not included.