How close is it? The last poll from WSB had Ossoff ahead by … 0.1 percent. How intense is it? Ossoff has raked in — no typo — $23 million from liberal donors nationwide who are desperate to give Trump a momentum-building black eye. How nasty is it? Dude:
Two big reasons to root for Handel tonight. One: It would be high-la-rious if the left, having bet all of its chips and the deed to its house on flipping this traditionally red seat, came out a loser again despite Ossoff running a conspicuously moderate campaign. In particular, if Handel were to surprise by winning handily, Democrats will sink into their worst bout of despondency since November 8, 2016. Their only consolation will be claiming the result was a fluke generated by voter sympathy for the GOP after the Steve Scalise shooting, something that even some Republican strategists are counting on.
Two, more substantively: Although many a hot take tomorrow will insist that the anti-Trump backlash has begun if Ossoff pulls this off, never mind that both candidates have avoided talking about Trump lately for their own reasons, the fate of ObamaCare may turn to some lesser or greater degree on what happens. Electoral results are always overinterpreted and right now the easiest and most obvious way to interpret an Ossoff win — particularly a decisive one — is that a reddish-purple district has vetoed the AHCA, a verdict that’ll send Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell into a panic. “Remarkable that a few hundred marginal voters in exurban Atlanta could today decide the future of the American healthcare system,” wrote David Frum this morning. I’m not sure he’s wrong. Neither is Nate Silver. Republicans on the Hill are already leery of the GOP’s “mean” health-care bill. A bad result tonight could shatter the fragile coalition in the House that passed it.
For that reason, it’s worth watching the margin in the Georgia race in tandem with the margin in the other special election tonight, the race in South Carolina’s Fifth District. That’s a deep-red constituency that’ll almost certainly hand a victory to Republican Ralph Norman over Democrat Archie Parnell, but by how much? Demographically, the district is 19 points more Republican than the country at large. The further Norman falls short of that margin, the more worried D.C. Republicans will be about health care and the midterms — especially if Ossoff also overperforms in Georgia.
John will have a live thread elsewhere on the site, with Decision Deck HQ tracking results in Georgia and South Carolina throughout the evening. I’m embedding the handy Hot Air Twitter widget below as there’s bound to be an insane degree of in-your-face “this changes everything” gloating on social media by one side or the other at some point in the next few hours. The number to watch in the early vote, per Byron York, is 59 percent. If Ossoff starts with that in the bank, he’s in good shape. If instead he’s at 54 percent or worse, it could be Handel’s night. Private polling had her trending downward late last week, an ominous sign for the GOP, but as I say, the last public poll had the race just one-tenth of one percent apart. Buckle up.