Lindsey Graham: ‘Unpopular’ Trump wasn’t enough to drag down GOP candidates
Senator Lindsey Graham smiles behind President Trump at the rally in the Bojangle's Coliseum. (Jeffery Edwards /

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) conceded the deep unpopularity of the twice-impeached one-term president who rules the Republican Party.

The South Carolina Republican, who famously declared "we will get destroyed ... and we will deserve it" if the GOP nominated Trump, told Politico the former president's 52-percent unfavorability rating wasn't enough to sink Glenn Youngkin in Virginia's gubernatorial race.

"Trump played it pretty well, not to give any more air to the Trump card," Graham said. "Being associated with an unpopular politician [like Trump] is an oft-used strategy. However, if that's all you got, you're not going very far."

Republicans are already studying the race, where Democrat Terry McAuliffe tried to tie Trump to Youngkin like an anchor, as a template for next year's midterm election, which the former president has already made himself a factor by hand-picking candidates for a variety of races up and down the ballot.

"Being part of a conservative movement created by President Trump wasn't a liability," Graham said. "The effort to disqualify Youngkin by constantly associating him with Trump didn't work."