Georgia 6th: Ossoff, Handel Coming Down To The Wire

The Georgia 6th District special election on June 20 is what you get when a nationalized local election gets major attention.

Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff has a strong chance of picking up this seat. This seat in Atlanta’s northern suburbs rarely votes for Ossoff’s party on a federal level. Yet, this time, national sentiment is a major factor.

The Democrats have put emphasis on gaining this seat as an act of defiance against President Donald Trump. It would also be a marker establishing their desire to retake Congress in the 2018 midterms. So far, it looks like success in Georgia is within reach. However, the Republicans and candidate Karen Handel are not going down without a fight.

Georgia 6th: The Polls

In an average of the four most recent polls released over the last few weeks, Ossoff has a lead of 48.5 to 46.5 percent. This is an average advantage of two points, and well within striking distance for Handel.

Ossoff took 48 percent in the April runoff with virtually no Democratic opponents splitting the vote. One ray of hope for Handel in the campaign is that the total Republican runoff vote exceeded Democratic. 98,192 voted for a Republican candidate, while 94,201 voted for a Democrat, the vast majority of which was for Ossoff. That illustrates why the race has been close now. It also demonstrates that turnout, as always, is key.

Georgia 6th: Captivating The Voters

Early voting is open ahead of the June 20 runoff. Word is that turnout has been heavy so far. With a nationalized race and many opportunities to vote, turnout could blossom beyond what is typical for a special election. That can’t necessarily be construed as favorable for either candidate.

On one hand, with thousands of new voters in the district, they could be trying to make an anti-Republican/Trump (or pro-Trump) statement. It may also be that in this traditionally Republican district, the base is turning out. Charlie Cook rates this as an “R+8” district, meaning, essentially, this seat has fairly deep GOP roots.

Handel needs those traditional Republican voters to come out for her. Of course, not being a presidential or even midterm election, “heavy” turnout is relative. It still might not be heavy enough. Meanwhile, Ossoff needs to rack up votes through the heart of the district. Most of it lies along the Route 19 corridor from Alpharetta to Roswell, while “majority minority” Doraville looks like a sure bet.

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