The two most recent polls in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District special election to be held on Tuesday show the race is a statistical tie between Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff and Republican candidate Karen Handel.
A “WSB-Landmark Communications poll of 800 likely voters has Ossoff leading Handel 49.7 percent to 48 percent.” The poll has a margin of error of 3.2 percent, and was conducted on a single day, Thursday, June 15, one day after Rep. Steven Scalise (R-LA) was shot by a Bernie Sanders supporter at a practice session of the Republican Congressional baseball team in Alexandria, Virginia.
A Fox5/Opinion Savvy poll, conducted over a two day period, from June 14 to June 15, and released on Friday shows an even tighter race.
“With only days left until the June 20 runoff, the poll shows Democrat Ossoff with 49.7 percent with Republican Handel with 49.4 percent,” Fox5 Atlanta reported on Friday.
Less than 1 percent of the registered voters surveyed are undecided.
The poll shows that Ossoff has a significant lead among early voters. Among the respondents to the poll, 58% of early voters voted for Ossoff with Handel at 42 percent.
But the results are different for voters who plan to vote next Tuesday. 62 percent of those who are voting on Election Day favor of Handel with 35 percent for Ossoff.
The Opinion Savvy conducted for FOX 5 included 537 participants and has a statistical margin of error of 4.2 percent.
Both candidates say the race is too close to call less than 24 hours before the polls open.
“It’s about where we would’ve expected. It’s a dead heat, neck and neck, and is all about turnout. We’re working hard to get people to the polls,” Republican candidate Handel told WSB after its poll was released.
“This race is neck and neck, and over the next four days our campaign is going to continue to work as hard as we ever have to ensure we don’t send another career politician to Washington,” Ossoff told WSB late Friday.
On Monday morning, President Trump weighed in on Twitter, urging residents of the district to vote for Handel.
The contest to replace Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), now Secretary of Health and Human Services, was originally viewed as a “bellwether” test of President Trump’s policies, but as enormous sums of money have flowed in to Ossoff’s campaign treasury from the country’s liberal bastions in California, Massachusetts, and New York, the contest has become more “one-of-a-kind.”
The race has now become the most expensive in Congressional history, with Ossoff raising more than $23 million as of May 31, according to Federal Election Commission records. Almost all of his money has been raised from out-of-district sources.
In contrast, the Handel campaign has raised only $4.5 million as of May 31, according to FEC records.
“Ossoff’s television ads mostly frame him as a centrist who criticizes both parties in Washington for “wasteful spending” and promises to focus on developing metro Atlanta’s economy. He’s also taken aim at Handel as a “career politician” and an executive for the Susan G. Komen Foundation when the organization threatened to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, a health care and abortion provider,” Real Clear Politics reports:
For Handel, Ossoff’s “values are 3,000 miles away in San Francisco,” the hometown of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. But Handel also has benefited from millions in out-of-state spending. A political action committee backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan spent $7 million on her behalf, and the GOP’s House campaign committee about $4.5 million.
Despite their emphasis on local matters, the candidates have generally aligned with their national parties on policy. She says she’d have voted for the House GOP health care bill; he says he’d have opposed it. She broadly endorsed Trump’s loose outlines for tax cuts; he’s said any plan must be “fiscally responsible.” He supports a higher minimum wage, with caveats; she’s opposed.
The two campaigns expect turnout to blow past the 2014 midterm election turnout of 210,000. More than 140,000 people cast ballots in the early voting period that ended Friday, compared with a total primary turnout of about 192,000. Republicans anticipated far higher early turnout among reliably Republican voters – Georgia voters don’t register by party – while Democrats point to thousands of ballots cast by newly registered voters and those who didn’t vote in April.
When the final results are known late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, the victorious party will likely claim a national mandate. Given the unique nature of this particular election and the volatility of the national political mood, however, such a claim may have a very short half-life.