Politics

Down to the Wire: Democrats Face Reckoning in Key Georgia Vote

Most expensive House race in history could go either way after liberals gamble tens of millions

The most expensive House of Representatives race in the nation’s history will conclude Tuesday with The Resistance finally scoring a win — or Republicans once again successfully defending GOP real estate.

Polls show the runoff between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel could go either way. In addition to the flood of money, it has attracted a massive amount of attention from across the country.

Political observers will be busy Tuesday night reading the tea leaves in an attempt to find out if the results offer clues about how the midterm congressional elections might play out next year.

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Until elections officials actually start counting the votes, speculation and conjecture is all that is available. So here are three reasons Ossoff could flip the 6th, and three reasons he might fall short.

Why Ossoff Will Win
The money. Handel, who served as Georgia secretary of state from 2007 to 2010 and ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2014, has raised $4.56 million for the House campaign through the end of May. In any other House race, such a haul by a non-incumbent would be cause for celebration and a sure sign of looming victory.

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But this is not a normal election. Without dozens of competitive House races going on — plus campaigns for Senate seats and governors’ mansions — the 6th Congressional District in the Atlanta suburbs has dominated attention. That, plus an aggressive campaign by progressive groups in the Daily Kos, unleashed a cacophony of campaign cash falling into Ossoff’s pockets from all over the country.

The young documentary filmmaker and former congressional aide had raised a staggering $23.6 million by last count.

That sum would make most Senate candidates blush — even in large states with expensive media markets.

Money is not always determinative, but it matters a lot. If that is the deciding factor, Ossoff will have the edge.

The enthusiasm. Voter motivation is hard to measure. An enthusiastic vote does not count any more than a reluctant one. But the anecdotal evidence is that Democrats are far more revved up than Republicans.

That enthusiasm has been seen in other special elections, including House races in Kansas and Montana, where Republicans held GOP seats but by smaller margins than they had won them in 2016.

Ossoff has led, if barely, in eight of the last dozen surveys taken in the district.

Progressives are desperate for a win, and in the four special elections triggered by incumbents leaving office to join President Donald Trump’s administration, this is by far their best shot.

The president. Trump is a polarizing figure here, as he is in much of the rest of the country. Political experts attribute much of the progressive energy to anger at the president.

Liberals want to send Trump a message and have latched on to Ossoff as the vehicle to do so.

Even before his presidency started, Trump was not a great fit in this district of well-educated residents and upscale shopping malls. He carried the district over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 by only about 1.5 percentage points.

Why Ossoff Will Lose
Ossoff’s carpetbagger persona. Much has been made of the fact that Ossoff cannot even vote himself on Tuesday — because he does not live in the 6th District.

He has downplayed that, telling reporters he lives just a few blocks from the district. But it took an enterprising Washington Free Beacon reporter about two hours on Monday to walk from Ossoff’s home near Emory University to the 6th District.

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Beyond his address, Ossoff has had to battle the perception that the Hollywood Left is trying to buy the election. Campaign finance reports show that he has raised more money from California than Georgia. In fact, he has more donors who live in the San Francisco Bay Area than in Georgia.

Legally, there is nothing wrong with raising gobs of money from donors out of state, and the Constitution requires only that he be at least 25 years old and live in Georgia. A home address in the district is not required. It remains to be seen whether that will present a fatal political problem.

Ossoff’s a lightweight. Early in the campaign, an outside political action group poked fun at Ossoff’s national security credentials by airing footage in a campaign ad showing him in college yukking it up with friends, dressed as Han Solo from “Star Wars” while drinking beer.

In addition, the Handel campaign repeatedly has hammered Ossoff for embellishing his already-thin résumé. Those national security credentials he likes to tout? Bogus, according to multiple fact-checkers. Rather than five years of national security experience working for Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), fact-checkers determined that least some of that time was spent performing mundane tasks in what essentially was an entry-level position.

Handel, meanwhile, touts her successful efforts to implement a state law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. In addition, she helped close a budget deficit without raising taxes when she chaired the Fulton County Board of Commissioners in 2004. (go to page 2 to continue reading)[lz_pagination]

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