Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham held onto his Senate seat in South Carolina, beating Democrat Jaime Harrison.
The Senate seat from South Carolina will remain in Republican control despite an energetic – and expensive – challenge from Harrison. The Associated Press called the race for Graham just before 10 p.m. with 46% of the vote reporting.
With 1,278 of 2,262 precincts reporting, Graham led with 735,957 votes compared to Harrison's 588,711, according to the AP. That translates to 54.81% for Graham compared to 43.84% for Harrison.
The candidates each held leads in the AP's early reporting Tuesday night. Counting is still underway.
Chris Whitmire of the Election Commission said results of in-person absentee voting would begin to appear in the first hour after polls close, though the timing will vary by county, with Tuesday's Election Day voting numbers to follow.
Election results: Greenville area local, state, federal races in the 2020 General Election
In the past week, polls have shown Harrison neck-and-neck with Graham or a couple of points behind the entrenched, high-profile senator battling to secure his fourth term. A former chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, Harrison aimed to win his first statewide election and defy the long-held belief that the seat is a GOP stronghold.
The contest has become one of the most expensive Senate races in American history and one of the most closely watched in 2020.
During the final full quarter of the campaign, Harrison raised $57 million and shattered Senate fundraising records. Harrison ended up raising the most money of any U.S. Senate candidate in the country, with contributions topping $108 million. With $74 million in contributions, Graham raised the fourth-most in the country.
Graham voted in person in his hometown of Seneca.
Harrison appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and spoke of voting early about a week ago with his two young sons.
Reporters and photographers with The Greenville News, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal and the Anderson Independent-Mail were with the Graham and Harrison campaigns in Columbia.
At the state Republican Party's election night event, SCGOP Chairman Drew McKissick told The Greenville News that South Carolina Republicans had "a spectacular ground game" with more than 300 full-time personnel compared to 25 in previous elections. They handled more than 600,000 door-knocks, 1.5 million phone calls, 4 million text messages and 10 million pieces of mail, McKissick said.
Supporters at the Pastides Alumni Center event began chanting "Lindsey Graham" and "six more years" after Fox News displayed a checkmark across Graham's headshot and The Associated Press reported Graham as the winner.
Gov. Henry McMaster got on stage seconds later and led a "go Lindsey go" chant to a crowd of about 100.
"That's six more years for Lindsey and then we've got four more for the greatest president in our lifetime, Donald Trump changing the whole world," McMaster said. "This gives us great confidence in the future of this country."
McMaster, along with other Republican leaders, honed in on Harrison's record-breaking fundraising and how out-of-state donors could not buy him a victory.
"We are going to send a clear message to California and New York that seats here in South Carolina are not for sale," Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette said. "You can take your $140 million and go home packing because Sen. Lindsey Graham will be going back up to D.C. fighting for our values making sure he stands for our military, that he stands behind our law enforcement and that he makes sure he’s helping the people of South Carolina."
Harrison took the stage in Columbia at about 10:30 p.m. He said that even though he lost tonight, "we proved that a New South is rising; tonight only slowed us down," he said.
A New South is on the way, he said, with leaders who reflect the community and serve the interests of everyone.
He held a quiet, private gathering for election night, with members of his campaign staff and some of his supporters in Columbia.
About 25 people stood in the grass in front of the platform as he spoke, each near a designated space to allow for social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The group only appeared right before Rep. Jim Clyburn appeared to briefly introduce Harrison, who once worked as an aide for the Majority Whip.
Clyburn calls Harrison his "political son."
Harrison will stay engaged in the political process, Clyburn noted,
"Jaime Harrison embodies the goodness of this great country," he said.
Carol Motsinger covers the state of South Carolina. Reach her at email@example.com or on Twitter @carolemotsinger. Daniel J. Gross is an investigative watchdog reporter focusing on public safety and law enforcement for The Greenville News. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @danieljgross.
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Election 2020: Lindsey Graham beats Jaime Harrison in Senate race