Election handicapper moves South Carolina Senate race to 'likely' Republican

Prominent election handicapper Cook Political Report has shifted the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op MORE (R-S.C.) from “solid” Republican to “likely” Republican as the Judiciary chairman runs for a fourth term.

A Cook analysis of Graham’s race still shows the South Carolina Republican the likely favorite to retain his seat in the longtime Republican stronghold in November but notes that Graham is facing a more serious challenge from Jaime Harrison (D), his top opponent.

The shift comes as Harrison, the former state Democratic Party chairman, has sought to make Graham’s closeness to President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE a top issue in his race, even as 55 percent of the respondents in a recent state poll said they approved of the job Trump is doing as president in February.

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Harrison has also gained some momentum by raising more than $7 million in the first quarter, nearly $2 million more than Graham, and by gaining the endorsement of a former Graham donor.

The Cook analysis says that Harrison’s resume makes him a strong candidate, even in the solidly red state.

“Graham’s political skills should not be underestimated, and he’s clearly taking this race quite seriously, as he should. However, we also can’t overlook the considerable resume that Harrison also brings to the race, and even South Carolina Republicans admit he is a strong candidate,” read the Cook Political Report’s analysis.

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Trump easily won the state over Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE by more than 14 points in 2016.

Graham won his last Senate race in 2014 by a similar margin — 55 percent to 39 percent.

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