Heavy Funding for Dem Jon Ossoff Catches Republicans Flat-Footed in Georgia Special Election

Jon Ossoff AP

A highly energized effort by the Democrats that has raised more than $8.9 million from around the country for thirty-year-old Jon Ossoff has caught the Republican leadership napping .

This puts the young Democrat within striking distance of the 50 percent plus one he needs to win the crowded Sixth Congressional District special election “jungle primary” in Georgia to replace Republican Tom Price, now Secretary of Health and Human Services, outright on Tuesday.

Five polls conducted between April 10 and April 15 give Ossoff between 41 percent and 45 percent of the vote, with the nearest of eleven Republican candidates, former Secretary of State Karen Handel,  maxing out at 21 percent.

The Z Politics/Clout Research Poll conducted between April 14 and 15 has Ossoff in first place with 41 percent, followed by Republican Bob Gray at 17 percent in a distant second and Handel at 15 percent in third.

The Emerson College Poll conducted between April 13 and 15 has Ossoff in first place with 43 percent, followed by Handel in second at 17 percent and Gray in third at 15 percent.

“If Ossoff is unable to obtain 50% in the primary on Tuesday he will be forced into a run-off against the candidate who comes in second place. In a series of four hypothetical match-ups, Ossoff trails all his Republican opponents but by a range of 2 to 5 percentage points – all within the poll’s margin of error,” the Emerson College Poll notes.

The WSB/Landmark Communications Poll conducted between April 12 and 13 has Ossoff in first place with 45 percent, followed by Handle in second at 17 percent and several others in single digits.

The Fox 5 Atlanta/Opinion Savvy Poll conducted on April 13 has Ossoff in first place with 42 percent, followed by Handel in second at 21 percent.

The Revily Poll conducted between April 10 and 12 has Ossoff in first place with 45 percent, followed by Handel in second at 17 percent and Gray in third at 16 percent.

The margin of error for the Revily poll is 4.5 percent, which at the top end would put Ossoff less than one percent beneath the majority he needs to avoid a runoff.

Most political experts expect Ossoff to fall just short of the majority he needs for an outright victory.

“Jim Galloway, a longtime political columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, told me . . .  that he would be ‘mildly surprised, if Ossoff won outright on Tuesday,” The New Yorker’s Charles Bethea reported on Monday.

Still, to have a Democratic candidate in a position where an outright victory on Tuesday would only “mildly surprise” a longtime local political columnist does not speak well for the efforts of the Republican leadership in securing this victory.

As he did in the special election in Kansas’s 4th Congressional District, which Republican Ron Estes won last week in a tighter contest than expected, President Trump weighed in on Monday, this time attacking the Democratic front runner, as NBC News reported:

On Twitter Monday, Trump criticized Jon Ossoff, who is leading a crowded field of candidates in the race to replace former Rep. Tom Price, who stepped down to become the president’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.

“The super Liberal Democrat in the Georgia Congressioal [sic] race tomorrow wants to protect criminals, allow illegal immigration and raise taxes!” Trump tweeted.

Ossoff responded with a statement, “While I’m glad the President is interested in the race, he is misinformed. 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.”

On the Republican side, Handel and Bob Gray appear to now be neck and neck in the race to finish in second position tomorrow and earn the right to face Ossoff in a two-person June runoff, according to the most current poll, that done by Z Politics/Clout Research.

“With less than 24 hours until Election Day, a new Z politics and Clout Research poll shows that Republicans may have a new front runner in the race to replace Tom Price,” Z Politics reported.

According to the report, Democrat Jon Ossoff remains the strong favorite ahead of the election, holding on to 41 percent of voter support. Among Republicans, former Johns Creek Councilman Bob Gray now appears to be edging ahead of former Secretary of State Karen Handel. Gray took the lead with 17 percent voter favor, while Handel slightly dipped to 15 percent.

Meanwhile, former State Senator Judson Hill is pulling 10 percent support, while former State Senator Dan Moody trails with 9 percent. Businessman David Abroms has 3 percent backing within the District, while former Trump Diversity Coalition leader Bruce Level has 1 percent of the vote. Former State Senator Ron Slotin, the only other prominent-ish Democrat in the running, pulled only 1 percent.

While Gray’s numbers have moved ahead of Handel’s, Clout pollster Fritz Wenzel says voter turnout will be key to determining who makes it into a runoff against Jon Ossoff.

“It is simply too close to call which of the Republicans will finish second and get into the runoff with Ossoff,” Wenzel told Z Politics.

“Bob Gray has increased by one point up to 17%, while fellow Republican Karen Handel has decreased by a point, to 15%, but the difference between them is statistically insignificant,” he added.

The strategic error made by the Republican Party has been to fail to identify the threat posed by Ossoff soon enough and to place enough ads to counteract the huge amount of media messages he has purchased in television, radio, and direct mail to define himself positively for the voters.

“Ossoff can afford to blanket local television in part thanks to the millions of dollars that have poured into his campaign from individual donors all over the country,” the New Yorker reported:

Dozens of volunteers from outside the state have also come to Georgia to spread his message. Ossoff recently landed on the cover of New York magazine, which called him “The Trump-Hate Weather Vane,” and stories have also appeared in Time and The Atlantic. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has put ads on Atlanta radio featuring the actor Samuel L. Jackson, a Morehouse alum. (“We have to channel the great vengeance and furious anger we have for this Administration into votes at the ballot box,” Jackson says in the spot.) Meanwhile, the actress Alyssa Milano, currently filming a project in Atlanta, drove Ossoff supporters to vote early during her downtime. The band Imagine Dragons has given the campaign permission to use one of its songs—its drummer, Daniel Platzman, was in Ossoff’s high-school class—though it hasn’t appeared in an ad yet

As for the Republican pushback, there has been some, but the question that will be answered by voters of the Sixth Congressional District tomorrow is this: is it too little too late?


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