Jaime Harrison, the weak South Carolina candidate in whom Democrat mega-donors invested unprecedented amounts of campaign spending to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, said it’s not his fault he lost.
“[W]hat happened is because of the coattails of Donald Trump,” Harrison told The State. “He was able to turn out more voters than I think any of us had ever thought about.
In the wake of Harrison’s defeat with only 44 percent of the vote, which saw Graham winning by a double-digit margin, state-level Democrats also faced losses.
“We got our butts kicked,” said state Rep. Gilda Cobb–Hunter, D-Orangeburg.
As a result, they worried that state GOP leaders would be “emboldened” to claim an even stronger mandate.
“They will just be even more so, particularly the newer members of the Republican caucus,” said Cobb–Hunter, “and so we all need to just buckle up, because it’s going to be a hell of a ride.”
In response, they accused Harrison of “nationalizing” his race and ignoring local issues in the conservative Southern stronghold.
They blamed the candidate for a weak ground game, such as refusing to knock on doors, while instead relying on a nearly entirely virtual effort, citing the coronavirus.
Ironically, Harrison out-performed Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden in the state.
A similar trend-line followed nationwide, with Republicans making unexpected gains in congressional races despite false projections of a blue-wave that would oust Trump-backing incumbents.
However, Democrats’ massive financial investments in the upsets were for naught, and GOP lawmakers in many states find themselves better positioned now to oversee matters such as the decennial redistricting process.
Biden—who likewise ran a low-energy, mostly virtual campaign—appeared to have benefited from widespread voting irregularities in several key blue-dominated cities which helped give him a projected lead in the Electoral College.
But no such help existed for him in South Carolina, where even the increasingly blue coastal area around Charleston went red once again.
GOP Rep.-elect Nancy Mace ousted one-term Democrat Rep. Joe Cunningham in the state’s 1st Congressional District, while all of its Republican incumbents won.
That left House Minority Whip Jim Clyburn, who represents a heavily black district in the state’s low-country region, as its only Democrat congressman. Clyburn easily won his 15th term in office.
His support is also believed to have played a major role in Biden’s success. Although the former vice-president’s campaign appeared to be flagging to more radical candidates like progressive–socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, Biden’s win in the Palmetto State, backed by Clyburn, bolstered him heading into the crucial Super Tuesday races.