Is anti-Trump message a winning strategy for Democrats?

These two ar­gu­ments will col­lide in an up­com­ing spe­cial elec­tion in sub­urb­an At­lanta for the seat of just-con­firmed Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Sec­ret­ary Tom Price—the first con­gres­sion­al elec­tion dur­ing Trump’s pres­id­ency. A lengthy roster of Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats are vy­ing to win a once-solidly Re­pub­lic­an dis­trict which has be­come highly com­pet­it­ive in the age of Trump. Nestled in up­scale Fulton and Cobb counties, the dis­trict is filled with af­flu­ent Re­pub­lic­ans work­ing for For­tune 500 com­pan­ies like Home De­pot and Coca Cola. Trump car­ried the dis­trict by only 2 points in 2016, a 20-point drop-off from Mitt Rom­ney’s win­ning mar­gin four years earli­er.

On pa­per, this elec­tion should be a golden op­por­tun­ity for Demo­crats to make polit­ic­al in­roads. The dis­trict is filled with the type of col­lege-edu­cated voters who have grav­it­ated away from Trump—in­clud­ing in­de­pend­ents who don’t strong have strong par­tis­an loy­al­ties but tend to vote Re­pub­lic­an. El­ev­en Re­pub­lic­ans will be fight­ing against each oth­er on an all-party primary bal­lot, mak­ing it likely the even­tu­al GOP stand­ard-bear­er will be wounded head­ing in­to an ex­pec­ted run­off. Trump’s pres­id­ency has got­ten off to a rocky start, giv­ing any Demo­crat plenty of ma­ter­i­al to work with.

But the early Demo­crat­ic fa­vor­ite in the race is about as awk­ward a fit for this par­tic­u­lar dis­trict as Demo­crats could find. Jon Os­soff, a self-de­scribed in­vest­ig­at­ive film­maker, is a 29-year-old Bernie Sanders back­er and a former na­tion­al se­cur­ity staffer for lib­er­al Rep. Hank John­son. His can­did­acy has been en­dorsed by Rep. John Lewis and cham­pioned by the lib­er­al Daily Kos web­site, which has helped him raise nearly $1 mil­lion for his cam­paign—a re­mark­able sum for an ob­scure can­did­ate in an off-year House elec­tion. He’s fa­cing an­oth­er Demo­crat, former state Sen. Ron Slot­in, whose more-mod­er­ate cre­den­tials are passé at a time when his party is look­ing for con­front­a­tion­al voices.

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