“This investment will help turn out — and provide key lessons on — crucial voters for South Carolina’s Fifth Congressional District and the 2018 midterms more broadly,” DCCC spokesman Cole Leiter said in a statement. “We’re proud to make this investment in organizing staff, African-American radio, mail, digital, and other targeted voter outreach in the final weeks of this campaign.”
The district, held until 2010 by Democrats, had been seen as increasingly out-of-reach for a party that had lost ground with Southern white voters. In 2016, Donald Trump carried the district by 18.5 points, as black turnout sagged behind the levels of the Obama years. Parnell, who’s white, has worked to reverse that trend, with Democrats believing that an Obama-style turnout rate, coupled with the GOP’s sag with suburban voters, would make the seat competitive.
Meanwhile, the NRCC is teaming up with Republican nominee Ralph Norman for a $97,000 ad buy. Norman, who had to put away an opponent in a runoff that took several days to finish its vote count, was actually beaten to TV in the general election by Parnell. The Democrat’s first ad, slightly altered from the primary (removing his party label), capitalized on his low-key demeanor to focus on his tax expertise and opposition to Social Security cuts.
Norman’s first general election ad was still to be seen, though Republicans had hinted since the runoff that they would expose “the real Archie Parnell.” The Democrat’s own polling found him cutting a 16-point Norman advantage to 10 points over the past month of campaigning, but Democrats remain more focused on winning the June 20 runoff in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District than in pulling a South Carolina upset. Focusing on direct mail and turnout, Democrats are more focused on seeing what sort of message might drive out voters without a black presidential nominee on the ballot.