The single greatest benefit to Karen Handel being the nominee in GA06 is that the voters already knew her. She had been Secretary of State, then had run for Governor and Senate. The voters knew her. The voters of the sixth supported her. Most importantly, the Democrats could not define her. Despite withering attacks from Jon Ossoff, the voters knew, for example, that Karen Handel had not spent state funds on a Lexus. That attack had already been made and rebutted several times. But Ossoff tried to make it again.
Likewise, the Planned Parenthood attack failed. Voters in the 6th actually heavily fund several pro-life organizations. It was not a smart attack to make, and it was withdrawn fairly quickly. It just emboldened Christian voters to turn out for Handel.
But there is one bit of revisionism now working its way through Twitter. The Democrats are now savaging Handel as a female Donald Trump. That one is laughable. First, they said Trump would hurt Handel, and now they are saying the sixth district voters voted for a female Trump.
The reality is that in the primary the candidates who most vocally stood shoulder to shoulder with Trump did worse than those who did not. Handel was well known as her own woman and not a huge Trump supporter. She had publicly expressed concern about the President before his election. But after the primary, both Handel and Trump’s team were able to find common ground to rally both Republicans who were skeptical of Trump and Republicans who fully supported Trump. There was an element of the GOP that rejected Handel as a rebuke to the President. But Handel still did better in the district than the President himself.
Just as notable, Jon Ossoff did worse than Hillary Clinton in the district.
The great difference between the two candidates is that Karen Handel was a known commodity who the voters chose in a primary. Ossoff was an unknown who won his primary largely by consolidating a national fundraising base in order to shut out the local Democrats people actually knew. That worked to his detriment.