With the talk of Democrats having an opportunity to fight back at the state level after November's presidential election, in which Republicans took control of the House, the Senate, and the Oval Office, some state battles have been more hyped up than others. The main focus has lately centered on Georgia's race, but in South Carolina's special election, Democrat Archie Parnell is trying to flip Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney's old House seat.
Georgia's 6th congressional district race became the most expensive House election in history with campaign costs reaching $50 million. And the close election between Democrat Josh Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel has made for intense headlines and grabbed national attention. Meanwhile, Parnell has raised less than a million, and reportedly contributed $180,000 of his own money to his campaign. His opponent, Republican Ralph Norman, has raised $1.25 million.
However, Democrats are hoping to flip at least 24 House seats by the 2018 midterm elections to gain the majority in the House, and even just one can help them get closer to that goal. Parnell's race against Norman doesn't have the big budget or national attention of Georgia's, but it can still give the country an idea of Democrats chances with other House seats.
In May, a poll estimated Parnell, a former Goldman Sachs senior advisor, was down 10 points to Norman, but it was still an increase from a March poll that had put him down 16 points in the race. And according to The Washington Post, it puts Parnell at a tighter margin than Mulvaney won in his last race.
The South Carolina 5th District seat that Parnell is trying to flip has only gone to Republicans in the last decade. Before Mulvaney's election in 2011, the district had voted blue since reconstruction, according to The Hill. However, redistricting in favor of Republicans kept Mulvaney's seat on lockdown.
However, Parnell's lack of national attention isn't for lack of trying. At the end of May, coinciding with House of Cards' fifth season premiere, he released a campaign ad where Parnell channeled Frank Underwood, whose fictional House seat in the show is actually the same one Parnell is running to fill. Parnell is filmed breaking the fourth wall, as Underwood's character often does in the show, to tell voters about his track record and assure them he understands the issues they care about. He even referenced President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, a move that one could argue might easily be taken out of Underwood's own playbook.
Parnell's chances may not be terribly high, but with Trump's job approval rating now at 36 percent, according to a recent CBS News poll, it could signal that the country is looking for some change, and that change might begin in state elections.
Parnell is clearly playing to South Carolina voters who might oppose President Trump and his administration, so the House race in the state shouldn't be so quickly discounted in favor of Georgia's runoff race.