Monday, September 29, 2008

South Carolina U.S. Senate Race

Race of the Day

South Carolina U.S. Senate

September 29, 2008
36 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2004 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Likely Republican (change from Safe Republican)

Changing the rating on this race is something that I am unsure of doing, because there is virtually no realistic way that first term Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is defeated for reelection. However, at least two recent polls from the state, both showing the incumbent at just about 50 percent and his Democrat opponent hanging around at a high single digit deficit sort of makes the change necessary. Nonetheless, Graham's surprising weakness in public opinion polls is not necessarily going to correlate to a groundswell against him on Election Day, and those who do cast a protest vote against him will not be enough to deny him another term.

First elected to Congress in the historic House GOP Class of 1994, Graham established a reputation on Capitol Hill as one of a new generation of up and coming conservatives, often impatient with the status quo. Since his election to the Senate in 2002, Graham has continued to sometimes go his own way, but along the way, he has become fairly unpopular among conservatives, both in his state and beyond. Rush Limbaugh seems to have a particular beef with Graham on issues such as immigration reform. The Senator is perhaps John McCain's best friend in Washington, and frequent travelling companion. If the Arizonan is elected to the White House this fall, Graham might possibly follow him to the Executive Branch in some capacity. If not, Graham will probably become even more influential in the Senate with his buddy serving as President.

For months, there was talk of a serious conservative opposition effort to Graham in the South Carolina Republican primary. Such a thing never really crystalized though, and he was able to win renomination fairly easily, with his victory in November long considered a foregone conclusion. Adding to the confidence was the fact that the party backed candidate for the Democrats was surprisingly defeated in that party's primary by a little known engineer with a flat-top haircut. Bob Conley had in fact been a Republican and held party positions in the GOP. He also was a supporter of the Republican Presidential campaign of the libertarian friendly Ron Paul of Texas. Conley now serving on the same Democrat ticket in South Carolina with a nominee like Barack Obama is pretty unusual, but that is the odd position that the state finds itself in.

While joining in Paul in opposing U.S. military presence in Iraq, Conley is in many ways running to the right of Graham on issues such as immigration and drilling for oil in ANWR. He has also taken to task the leadership of the Democrat state party for their attacks on Sarah Palin.

Conley has virtually no money with which to campaign and of course does face an uphill battle in a state with as solid a Republican infrastructure as South Carolina, but polls are showing him running closer than expected because through all his quirks, he is the vehicle that all who want to oppose Graham, be they from the left or right, are able to coalesce around.

This election is a referendum on Graham. It will be closer than it should be and a lot of people will vote against him, although a good deal of them certainly do not want a Democrat to be elected and would not necessarily find much to embrace about the quixotic campaign of Conley. The incumbent, for his part, seems content with having a lot of people vote against him though, and appears more focused on the Presidential race. Say what you will about Lindsey Graham, but he is a good and loyal wingman.

Graham campaign link:

2008 U.S. Senate races predicted: 12D, 16 R
Predicted Senate balance of power thus far: 51 D, 42 R


At 2:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lindsey GrahamNESTY is a Traitor!!

You and everyone else should vote for the Patriot Bob Conley!

At 2:20 AM, Blogger Corey said...

Wow, you are quick. I have seen you on other blogs talking about this Conley character. This must be a serious duty of yours. But you are the first person to leave a comment on this blog in like a month, and for that, you have my eternal gratefulness on this eve of Rosh Hashanah.

I cannot vote in SC of course, but I guess I would vote for Conley over Dick Durbin.

And for the record, I sided with President Bush, McCain, and Graham on the immigration thing.


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