Okay, we can’t quite call this a wrap yet. But it certainly looks like the Georgia 6th congressional race is going to a run-off. What does that mean? I was fairly pessimistic that Ossoff could win outright tonight. Would have been great if he could have, for obvious reasons. It looked doable early. But it wasn’t to be.
Here’s my takeaway.
This is disappointing because Ossoff came pretty close to an almost unbelievable result – winning outright in a big field in a strong GOP district. The worst thing that could happen here is Democrats get demoralized. This is a very GOP district. It’s Tom Price’s district. It was Newt Gingrich’s district. An untested Democratic candidate with no prior experience in elected office just came very close to winning it outright. Prior to 2016, Price never came in under 64.51% of the vote. In November he took 61.7%. This is a massive swing in the Democrats direction.
Compared to 2016, Ossoff bettered Clinton’s percentage by 1.6% in Dem-leaning DeKalb and 1.4% in GOP-leaning Cobb. Most of Fulton is still out so we don’t know there yet. That’s compared to the 2016 top of the ticket. Compared to 2016, for the congressional seat, this is at least a ten point swing in the Dems’ direction.
If Democrats get anything close to the swing they got in Kansas and here tonight in 2018 they will score a massive win. The counter to that is that Price hasn’t really faced a well-funded opponent in years. Hypothetically, maybe strong Democrats with lots of money would have held Price to 55% rather than over 65%. But those are special pleading hypotheticals. While Dems take some legitimate hits for not contesting non-swing districts, the reason Price didn’t draw strong competitors is that he was in a pretty safe seat.
The reality is this is an incredibly strong showing. It’s a strong GOP district. This is a dramatic shift in the Democrats’ direction. And Ossoff still has a solid shot in the run off.
The way you win Congress is that you contest every race. You learn from each contest, win or lose. You refine the strategy and message and go back again. (I spoke to a very experienced Dem consultant about a month ago who didn’t think Ossoff had any chance in this race. He was wrong.) We don’t know where the country will be in 18 months. But to the extent you can draw a line between tonight and election day 2018, the results of this race and the Kansas race taken together point to a anti-GOP wave election in 2018.