Despite the popular Democratic war cry, it isn’t looking like Jon Ossoff will beat the odds and “Flip The 6th.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price vacated Georgia’s 6th Congressional District when President Trump appointed him to his current position. The district has long been a Republican stronghold since the days of Newt Gingrich. However, President Trump is proving to be a big factor when it comes to courting the area’s conservative – yet affluent – constituents.
Price never had trouble winning easily in the district that encompasses the rich and educated neighborhoods of North Metro Atlanta. In 2016, he won re-election by a resounding 23-point margin. Despite this, Trump, with his blue collar appeal, barely scraped by with a one-point victory. Now that Price has left for HHS, the district is up for grabs and Democrats smell blood.
It is true that Jon Ossoff has a lot of factors going for him.
Ossoff is the unofficial standard-bearer for the Democratic side (despite several other Democrats still campaigning) whereas many Republicans are running competitively against each other. This has created an opening for Ossoff while the GOP is greatly divided. Adding to this dynamic, the special election is set up as a jungle primary – meaning all Republicans and Democrats are running against each other and the top two candidates (regardless of party) will make it to the run-off election. For Ossoff to stand a chance, he needs to reach the 50 percent mark to avoid a run-off in the deep red district.
And for a long while, it was looking like he could pull it off. Polls showed him closing in on the 50-percent threshold. Democrats nationwide have poured over $8 million on his behalf – a stunning haul for a not-so-special House race.
Despite this, recent polls out now show Ossoff losing steam and dropping below 40 percent. While he will surely make the run-off, he will have an extremely uphill battle to climb in defeating a Republican one-on-one. He will most likely face former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel in a June 20 run-off.
Ossoff had a mild set back in his campaign in March when it was revealed he embellished his resume. The former aide to Rep. Hank Johnson had top-secret clearance for five moths while he worked as a congressional staffer. However, he longed claimed on the campaign trail that his security clearance lasted for several years. It was also unearthed that Ossoff is not even currently living in the district.
Republicans, for their part, have been greatly disturbed by the Democratic enthusiasm and have responded accordingly. The National Republican Congressional Committee has increased its presence in the special election and plan to support the eventual Republican nominee. They will have to work hard to energize a Republican constituency that may be feeling complacent in a time when the GOP controls both chambers of Congress and the presidency.
The outcome of the election could prove to be very symbolic of the political atmosphere under a Trump White House.