The 5th District congressional race is tightening, according to an internal poll conducted for Democrat Archie Parnell.
The poll shows Parnell trailing by 10 percentage points with just three weeks to go until the June 20 special election. However, the campaign of the Sumter Democrat thinks he is within range of winning the GOP-leaning district.
The poll, conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, shows Republican Ralph Norman of Rock Hill leading 50-40 over Parnell.
While Parnell trails, the 10-point margin is closer than the 20-point victory that U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, scored over Democrat Fran Person in November. Mulvaney subsequently resigned to become White House budget director under President Donald Trump.
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The Parnell campaign says its polling shows the 5th District race is tightening. In March, Norman led by 16 points, according to Parnell’s polling.
The latest poll was of 401 likely 5th District voters, demographically mirroring voters who cast ballots in the 2014 midterm election.
A mid-May poll, conducted by the GOP-leaning Rampart PAC, found Norman leading, 53-36. That poll surveyed 629 5th District voters, weighted according to “expected turnout demographics” in the June 20 special election.
With only three weeks left until the special election, the pressure is on Parnell to turn out motivated voters in a district that both Mulvaney and Trump carried by close to 20 percentage points, said Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon.
“Norman could coast, but Parnell needs to bring out every single Democrat who would not normally turn out, plus every aggrieved independent voter,” Huffmon said.
As in other special elections this year, Parnell needs independent and moderate voters to turn out and cast ballots against the Trump Administration, with which Norman has identified himself.
“It’s a risky strategy for both sides,” Huffmon said. “But, so far, nothing (Trump’s) done has alienated his base. ... If you’re a Tea Party-favorable voter, you still like him. Nothing has tipped the scales.”