All over the internet, liberal reporters are positively giddy at the thought that Jon Ossoff could win in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District today. But it is not going to happen, though you’d have a hard time believing it based on media coverage. Jon Ossoff has given the political press thigh sweats as they engage their fever dreams about beating Trump.
To understand why it is highly unlikely, despite what you have heard, for Jon Ossoff to win today, first understand one number: 46.8. That would be the percentage of the vote Hillary Clinton got in the 6th congressional district against Donald Trump, who got 48.3%. For more perspective, Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama by 14 points in 2012 and John McCain beat Barack Obama by 13 points in 2008.
Jon Ossoff has consistently polled less than Hillary Clinton’s 46.8% in the district. If you read the fawning reports in the New York Times, Washington Post, BuzzFeed, MSNBC, etc. you’d never know that.
Ossoff has been able to get traction through two paths. First, coastal liberals poured money into his race. The overwhelming majority of his money did not come from Georgia. I have not yet figured out how Ossoff was able to get his profile boosted so quickly, but I suspect he tapped into one of a variety of Democrat PR firms that do this and worked pre-existing connections into the liberal netroots. Via DailyKos and other outlets, Ossoff raised over $8 million and flooded the airwaves. He shut out the other Democrats as a result and avoided the makings of a Democratic primary.
On the Republican side, however, there were thirteen candidates. Those candidates range on a spectrum of decidedly opposed to Donald Trump to people who worked for him. Instead of focusing on Ossoff, they largely focused on attacking each other leaving it to national Republican groups to soften up Ossoff. Unfortunately for them, the way special elections work in Georgia, all the Republicans and Democrats are on the same ballot.
Over the past month, as outside groups picked up the slack for the GOP candidates, Ossoff’s support has declined. Some recent polling suggests he captured about 50% of the early vote, but the election day vote will lean toward senior citizens and they are heavily leaning towards Karen Handel. (Full disclosure: I am supporting Handel) Likewise, with traffic screwed up in the metro Atlanta area due to a collapsed interstate as well as rain expected today in the district, only the most committed partisans will go vote. There are far less Democrat partisans in the sixth congressional district than there are Republicans.
The top four Republicans right now are Karen Handel, Dan Moody, Bob Gray, and Judson Hill. Handel has the backing of Trump’s statewide chairwoman for Georgia. Moody has the backing of the popular Speaker Pro Tem in the Georgia House. Bob Gray has the backing of the Club for Growth. Judson Hill has the backing of Marco Rubio.
Jon Ossoff is going to make it into a runoff. But from there it is really hard to see how he wins. That’s why you can expect the media to claim Ossoff getting that far is a rebuke to the President. He’ll get no further than that. The real story is that in a district that Donald Trump barely won, Republicans were able to rally to a special election and stop a Democrat who had more money than all of them combined. The even more real story is that this is a Republican seat, which will be won by a Republican, and the Democrats wasted $8 million in the name of narrative building.