This special election might remain extra-special over the next two-plus weeks. Voters in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional district remain equally divided between the two finalists to replace Dr. Tom Price in the House, and that has been true since the initial all-in primary. In the latest poll from WSB-TV and Landmark Communications, Democrat Jon Ossoff has a 1.5-point lead over Republican Karen Handel — in a survey with a 4.4% margin of error:
— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) June 1, 2017
Democrats have dumped a large fortune into winning this special election, and so far it does not appear to have had much impact. In most polling for the race, Ossoff fails to hit 50% despite his large advantage in resources. In an R+8 district it’s not a bad performance, but it’s also a district where Donald Trump only edged Hillary Clinton by a single point, 48-47. If Republicans are vulnerable here, Ossoff certainly isn’t closing the sale on a switch, at least thus far.
His bases of support in this poll may also be an issue. He does best with younger voters, leading Handel 59-37 among voters under 40, but those are also the voters who tend not to show up in elections. That may be especially true in special elections, which might mean that Ossoff’s election-day strength could be overestimated here. Still, Handel’s not progressing much either despite having mostly unified the GOP vote after beating ten other Republicans; Ossoff’s getting twice as many crossover votes as Handel in this survey, 14.2% of Republicans against 7.1% of Democrats going to Handel.
This poll runs pretty much in line with the aggregation at RealClearPolitics. Ossoff has a two-point lead in the RCP average, but that includes a mid-May outlier from SurveyUSA that gave him a 51-44 lead. The two candidates have a chance to break the logjam next Tuesday at the one debate they will hold. If Handel can emphasize Ossoff’s progressiveness and the outside cash backing him, she could change the trajectory, but expect Ossoff to do nothing but say “Trump, Trump, Trump” the whole time.
In the end, this is probably not going to matter anyway. If it takes $10 million for Democrats to win this R+8 district in a special election, the GOP will likely take it back in 2018 anyway as Democrats get forced to spread their money around the country. That’s why special elections mean little when it comes to national trends, but in the meantime, we’ll all have something to discuss.