But to win, the Democrat will also need Graham’s weakness—his historically uneasy relationship with the hardcore GOP grassroots—to come back and haunt him, in the form of Trump supporters skipping the Senate line of their ballot. While there are strong indications these voters will back Graham, the recent New York Times poll found 11 percent of Republicans aren’t supporting him—a margin that could prove significant in a close race.
To that end, Harrison and his allies are also exploiting a newer weakness for Graham: third-party candidate Bill Bledsoe. A hard-line conservative, Bledsoe dropped out of the race and endorsed Graham, but did not exit quickly enough to get his name off the ballot.
In an eleventh-hour media blitz, Harrison’s campaign is elevating Bledsoe in ads by attacking him as too conservative—but in doing so, the would-be attack ad offers up right-wing voters a laundry list of things to like about him, namely his unwavering support of Trump. And the Lincoln Project, the anti-Trump PAC, ran ads calling Bledsoe “the real deal” for South Carolina.
Bledsoe has called these ads fraudulent; Graham has slammed the play as a dirty trick that smacks of desperation from Harrison. Asked by The Daily Beast about whether the ads were dishonest, Harrison questioned why Bledsoe didn’t officially drop out earlier.