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Hagen writes: "The highly anticipated Georgia special election is coming down to the wire Tuesday as Democrats look to deliver a major upset and turn the House race into a referendum on President Trump."

Jon Ossoff speaks to the media during a visit to a campaign office. (photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Jon Ossoff speaks to the media during a visit to a campaign office. (photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

ALSO SEE: Voting Machines Stolen Ahead of Georgia Special Election

Five Things to Watch in the Georgia Special Election

By Lisa Hagen, The Hill

18 April 17


he highly anticipated Georgia special election is coming down to the wire Tuesday as Democrats look to deliver a major upset and turn the House race into a referendum on President Trump.

All eyes will be on whether Democrat Jon Ossoff can win outright, or whether he and one of the Republican candidates will compete in a June runoff to fill the seat vacated by Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

Here are the five things to watch for Tuesday:

Does Ossoff win outright?

That’ll be the biggest question of the night and the most closely watched part of the vote.

Ossoff will face candidates of both parties Tuesday in the “jungle primary.” Polls show him hovering in the low 40s — a promising number for a Democrat in the district that Trump won by 1 percent of the vote, but still not close enough to the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff.

Democrats hope to avert the runoff and send a clear signal to Trump and Republicans that even GOP seats in districts that went for Trump aren’t safe from midterm challenges. An early Ossoff victory would also boost Democratic spirits and fundraising, raising expectations for a wave election that hands Democrats a House majority.

Even if Ossoff doesn’t clinch a majority of the vote, he’s still expected to make the June 20 runoff. But he will have a much steeper climb winning the seat in a runoff, when the 18-candidate race will be narrowed to just Ossoff and a Republican with the national party’s backing.

Ossoff has generated excitement among Democrats, hauling in an unprecedented $8.3 million in three months. If he goes to a runoff, he’ll be challenged to keep up that momentum and record fundraising over the next two months.

Which Republican makes the runoff spot?

If Ossoff fails to win a majority, he’ll likely face one of 11 Republicans from the primary field in June.

There are several leading contender among the crowded GOP group, but which one could win the second-place spot to make the runoff is a big question mark going into Election Day.

Former Georgia secretary of State Karen Handel was an early favorite, but she’s been hit with a barrage of attacks from her Republican rivals and their allies. The conservative Club for Growth targeted her as a “career politician. Fellow GOP candidate Dan Moody, a former state senator, took his own jab at Handel with an ad featuring an elephant wearing a pearl necklace — a permanent fixture in Handel’s wardrobe. 

But Handel entered the race with the highest name recognition, thanks to two failed statewide campaigns and her high-profile resignation from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation over the organization’s funding for Planned Parenthood.

Polling shows three other top GOP contenders behind Handel: Moody, former state Sen. Judson Hill and former councilman Bob Gray. 

Gray has aligned himself closely with Trump, even though the president only carried the district by 1 point. But he’s clashed with Republican Bruce LeVell, who led Trump’s national diversity coalition and has challenged the authenticity of Gray’s support for the president. 

LeVell campaigned with Trump’s first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, but he polls far behind the rest of the GOP field. 

Does Ossoff run up the vote in the right counties?

Georgia’s 6th District, which based in Atlanta’s suburbs, spans three counties: Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton.

DeKalb County is the most Democratic of the three. Ossoff is expected to do well in DeKalb precincts like Brookhaven. But if Ossoff fails to establish a base of votes there, strategists in the state say the race will likely go to a runoff. 

That’s because Cobb and Fulton will be tougher terrain for Democrats. 

Ossoff is not expected to perform well in northern Fulton areas like Alpharetta and Johns Creek, places with strong ties to some of the leading Republicans. 

But if Ossoff performs better than expected in northern Fulton, that could be a game-changer.

“If Jon Ossoff is getting 10 to 20 percent of the vote up there, that’s a really great night for him,” said Tharon Johnson, a Georgia Democratic strategist.

In Cobb, Ossoff is expected to have a hard time all across the county. Hillary Clinton won the county overall in the 2016 presidential race, but did not carry the portion that falls in the 6th District. 

Strategists say Ossoff could do well in east Cobb, an area with a large population of educated, female GOP voters that saw many votes for Clinton. 

“He’s got to come to as close as he can to get percentages similar to what Hillary Clinton got in that district in Cobb in order to win without a runoff,” Johnson said.

In the GOP field, Hill used to represent a portion of Cobb, so high turnout there could mean a good night for him. But with many of the leading GOP contenders likely to split the vote in Fulton, the Republican field will likely come down to which candidate can get the majority of votes in DeKalb in order to make the runoff.

With early voting split, which party will have stronger turnout at the polls?

Three weeks of early voting came to an end last Friday with more than 46,000 ballots cast, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution

Democrats appeared to have a substantial early-voting advantage in the beginning, but Republicans have reportedly closed the gap.

Georgia strategists and political observers say that Republicans typically have stronger turnout on Election Day as well as absentee voting, while Democrats usually have an upper-hand in early voting.

The number of voters choosing Democratic and Republican ballots is nearly even, according to a Journal Constitution tally. 

Georgia voters aren’t required to choose a party when they register. While they must select one of the party’s primary ballots, they don’t have to vote for that party’s candidate.

With both parties nearly even in early voting, Democrats and Republicans alike will need to count on strong Election Day turnouts. 

How will Trump react?

Trump has largely stayed out of the race, save a Monday tweet slamming Ossoff as a “super liberal” and claiming that he supports illegal immigration and tax increases. Ossoff fired back in a statement, calling Trump “misinformed.”

It remains to be seen whether he’ll weigh in on the race after the results, but last week’s Kansas special election suggests that Trump will be watching — and might find it hard not to claim victory if Ossoff fails to avert a runoff.

Prior to the Kansas election, Trump tweeted his support for GOP nominee Ron Estes. After Estes won, performing worse than Trump had in 2016, Trump falsely tweeted that Democrats “spent heavily” in the race. your social media marketing partner


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0 # librarian1984 2017-04-19 05:14
Ossoff is an establishment Democrat who endorsed Hillary Clinton and, unlike James Thompson in the recent Kansas race, he was supported by the DNC and party .. and LOST.

What is significant is that the campaign just spent EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS for a House seat .. and LOST.

The campaign spent most of its money on tv advertising .. and LOST.

This, as much as the DNC vote, illustrates the problem with not making the Dem leadership and campaign organization honestly assess the 2016 race and not firing the people who blew that race. EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS could have been used to build not just the GA state party but several others. That money SHOULD have been used to build party infrastructure, not on ONE House race.

Both Sanders and Trump showed what a modern race should look like -- but the DNC, the losers who just gave us Pres. Trump, have no reason to change their thinking or tactics because they never paid a price for LOSING. They didn't support the progressive in KS, and they LOST; they went all out for the establishment candidate .. and LOST.

The Democrats are LOSERS. They have institutionaliz ed LOSING. After spending EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS -- four times more than anyone else in the race -- Ossoff received about 1.5% more of the vote than Hillary Clinton's 2016 performance in all three counties mentioned in this article.

Fulton: Clinton 46,4%, Ossoff 47.6
Cobb: Clinton 39.9, Ossoff 41.3
DeKalb: Clinton 57, Ossoff 58.6
0 # librarian1984 2017-04-19 06:53
When asked what the DP is going to do to defeat Karen Handel in June, Tom Perez said he is optimistic -- the DP is going to organize. Organize. ORGANIZE!

He touted the engagement of ..... millennials (with NO mention of millennials actually supporting a progressive agenda)! He said they are counting on MODERATE Republicans to shift to the DP when they see how 'off the mainstream' Karen Handel is. He did not mention ONE issue or policy the DP stands for -- nothing about healthcare or jobs.

Additionally, Democrats assume that higher turnout benefits the DP -- but that did not happen in Georgia.

Perez is crowing about the moral victory, didn't mention KS at all, is running AGAINST Trump rather than FOR anything -- and is counting on millennials supporting neoliberals to GOTV.

Is everybody happy with this? Everybody confident about 2018? Glad we didn't hold ANY Democrat accountable?
+1 # Sandor 2017-04-20 17:25
librareian 1984's postings explain a lot about the run-up to last Tuesday's Georgia election. Ossoff sent out enormous numbers of messages, not one of which detailed his own legislative goals. All we could learn was that he was NOT Donald Trump, something I suspect we could have guessed on our own.

If this continues to be the Democratic Party strategy, I suspect Ossoff will lose the election, and will deserve to.

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