Nevertheless, Ossoff has managed an impressive feat by tapping into the resources and energy of the national anti-Trump resistance movement while presenting an acceptable, handsome face to voters who may be open to voting for a Democrat for the first (or second) time in many years. Especially woke celebrities, including Samuel L. Jackson and Chelsea Handler, have lent Ossoff their support, while actress Alyssa Milano traveled to the district to drive Ossoff voters to the polls. Ossoff’s rank and file, meanwhile, is bolstered by moms wearing Lululemon. When I popped into his DeKalb County office shortly after the first round of voting, I was greeted by a fiftysomething woman who had never before volunteered for a campaign.
It is possible that Ossoff, an attractive but unexceptional candidate buoyed by national trends, came a little too soon for metro Atlanta. Millions in political spending could take their toll in convincing voters he’s too liberal, too young, too much of a risk. Even if he wins, he will be hanging on to the seat by his fingernails, vulnerable to a Helen Mankin–like defeat in the next bout with the state’s dominant party.
But the fact that any Democrat is polling ahead of a Republican in this slice of suburbia should be a firebell in the night for establishment-GOP leaders. Having been reduced to rubble during the Obama years, Democrats are reemerging in unexpected places. The cracks of a populist–cosmopolitan split with national implications may be widening in the suburbs. Atlanta, the city of Mankin and Talmadge, is familiar with that kind of change.