Columbia Free Times
FT Politics

Will SC GOP Primary Voters Listen to Conservative Blogosphere?

By Dan Cook
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 |
Red State blogger and Fox News contributor Erik Erickson put in his two cents on one of South Carolina's two U.S. Senate primaries this morning: He endorsed Columbia pastor Det Bowers, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in the June 10 primary.

Erickson wrote that he has always liked Graham, but he could not endorse him because he disagrees on too many issues: "I disagree with him on our nation’s role as the world’s policeman. I disagree with him on the NSA situation. I disagree with his votes for Kagan and Sotomayor."

And because of that disagreement, Erickson threw his support behind Bowers as the most credible contender in the race — primarily judged by Bowers' fundraising haul so far, $421,417 as of March 31, with $376,608 cash on hand.

But is Erickson's endorsement — or others from conservative bloggers — enough to turn the tide in a race where Graham has $6.8 million cash on hand? And where Graham, though not wildly popular, is polling at five times the support of his closest opponent? And where the conservative challengers with the most support are not necessarily the ones with the most money?

The latest Winthrop Poll on the race, completed in February, shows state Sen. Lee Bright as Graham's leading challenger — and polling at just 9 percent support. Bright raised $295,215 in the first quarter, but had only $78,556 cash on hand. In the same poll, Graham has the support of 45 percent of likely voters. An April poll from Winthrop did not ask about Graham opponents, but had Graham at 39.6 percent support among registered voters.

With his large lead in both polls and fundraising, Graham is poised to come out on top in the June 10 primary. But whether he can hit 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff two weeks later is another matter entirely.

In order to unseat Graham, conservatives will need to rally around a single Graham challenger — and contribute generously to that conservative's campaign. Barring that, the prospects for Graham being re-elected still look strong.

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