Sen. Lindsey Graham, facing six challengers in next Tuesday's Republican primary in South Carolina, is just shy of the voter support he needs to avoid a runoff, a survey released Wednesday shows.
The Clemson University Palmetto poll
found Graham supported by 49 percent of frequent Republican voters; he'll need 50 percent plus one to skirt a runoff.
None of Graham's competitors broke 10 percent, with the closest challenger, state Sen. Lee Bright of Roebuck, netting 9 percent voter support; all of Graham's rivals had a combined 26 percent.
The block of undecided GOP voters hit 35 percent in the survey, but Clemson political scientist Bruce Ransom told The Greenville News
that "a lot of that's going to break for Lindsey."
Fellow Clemson political science professor Dave Woodard noted Graham's re-election war chest has more than $12 million – and his campaign poured it on for the primary race, the newspaper notes.
"It paid off," Woodard said. "That's the short answer."
The poll also found a surge in the number of Republican primary voters who said they'd vote for Graham regardless of who runs against him, from 31 percent in a Clemson poll in September to 46 percent in the latest survey.
The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 6 percentage points.
GOP consultant Hogan Gidley told CNN
that Graham's efforts to improve his standing with conservatives are paying off.
"The Graham campaign did an outstanding job in heading off the uprising at the pass," he said, adding: "What Graham was successful in doing was tethering himself to fellow South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott, touting his conservative credentials in commercials, and basically telling voters that at the end of the day he's a conservative."
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