Accuses Ossoff of wanting to “protect criminals, allow illegal immigration and raise taxes!”
On the eve of the special election in Georgia’s 6th district, news of President Trump’s approval hitting 50% on Rasmussen’s Presidential Tracking Poll is being blasted from the rafters by Drudge and retweeted by the President himself. However, Rasmussen’s appears to be an outlier, though Gallup has him up by two points at 41%.
This is an important point because Georgia’s 6th, Newt Gingrich’s old district, only barely went for Trump last November, and the progressive Democrat, Jon Ossoff, began his campaign as a “Make Trump Furious” effort and in doing so, has intentionally made the special election a referendum on Trump.
This “resist we much” strategy worked for him in terms of fundraising, but it’s not at all clear that the relatively conservative voters in Georgia’s 6th want to play along. Of the astounding influx of money into Ossoff’s “Make Trump Furious” campaign, only 5% came from within the district.
For his part, President Trump has entered the fray.
The super Liberal Democrat in the Georgia Congressioal race tomorrow wants to protect criminals, allow illegal immigration and raise taxes!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 17, 2017
Ossoff responded to the President’s tweet as follows:
“While I’m glad the president is interested in the race, he is misinformed,” Ossoff said in a statement released by his campaign. “I’m focused on bringing fresh leadership, accountability and bipartisan problem solving to Washington to cut wasteful spending and grow metro Atlanta’s economy into the Silicon Valley of the South.”
Ossoff, realizing that the anti-Trump message got him only so far (and largely only with people outside the district in which he is running . . . but does not live), has switched to a “nonpartisan message of pragmatism that he hopes will make conservative-leaning independents and soft Republicans feel comfortable voting for a Democrat.”
It’s unlikely to work, however.
Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight writes:
If the polls are right, then Democrat Jon Ossoff will receive by far the most votes in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, which is holding a special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Tom Price on Tuesday.1 But Ossoff will probably finish with less than 50 percent of the vote, which would trigger a runoff between him and the next-highest finisher — most likely the Republican Karen Handel, but possibly one of three other Republicans (Bob Gray, Dan Moody Judson Hill) who are closely bunched behind her in polls.
Furthermore, the combined vote for all Republican candidates will probably exceed the combined vote for Ossoff and other Democrats, although it should be close. And the district has historically been Republican-leaning, although it was much less so in the 2016 election than it had been previously. All of this makes for a fairly confusing set of circumstances and a hard-to-forecast outcome.
If Ossoff fails to meet the 50+1 threshold, the GOP will have a chance to regroup and coalesce behind a single candidate for June’s runoff. It is unlikely that Ossoff will pull off a victory at that point.
Apply these principles to the Georgia 6 race, and you’ll conclude that Tuesday night’s first round won’t actually resolve that much — unless Ossoff hits 50 percent of the vote and averts the runoff entirely. (That’s an unlikely but hardly impossible scenario given the fairly high error margins of polls under these circumstances.) Even if Ossoff finishes in the low 40s, it will be hard to rule him out in the second round provided that he still finishes in first place by a comfortable margin. But even if Ossoff finishes just a point or two shy of 50 percent, and Democrats finish with more votes than Republicans overall,3 he won’t have any guarantees in the runoff given that it’s a Republican-leaning district and that the GOP will have a chance to regroup.