Report: Private polling shows Karen Handel trending downward in Georgia special election

As grim confidential polling data circulates among GOP strategists, interviews with nearly two dozen Republican operatives and officials reveal that they are preparing for the possibility of an unnerving defeat that could spur lawmakers to distance themselves from Trump and his already-troubled legislative agenda, and potentially encourage a wave of retirements.

While no one is willing to publicly write off Handel’s chances just yet — Republicans stress that she remains competitive and point to robust GOP early voting figures — several private surveys taken over the last few weeks show Republican nominee Karen Handel trending downward, with one private party poll showing 30-year-old Democrat Jon Ossoff opening up a more than five-point lead in the Republican-oriented, suburban Atlanta seat.

“If we’re losing upper middle class, suburban seats in the South to a 30-year-old progressive liberal, we would be foolish not to be deeply concerned about the possibility that would exist for a tidal wave election for Democrats in 2018,” said Chip Lake, a Georgia-based Republican strategist and former Capitol Hill chief of staff.