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Caitlin MacNeal

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Articles by Caitlin

In closed-door interviews with special counsel Robert Mueller and Senate investigators last week, two of the top intelligence community leaders said that President Donald Trump suggested they publicly deny that there was any collusion between Trump and the Russians, CNN reported early Thursday morning, citing unnamed sources.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers told investigators about Trump’s request, and said that they did not feel Trump was trying to interfere in the probes, CNN reported. Both said they were surprised by Trump’s suggestion and that the interactions were uncomfortable, per CNN.

The Washington Post had reported in May that Trump asked Coats and Rogers to deny in public that there was evidence of collusion.

During a public hearing with the Senate Intelligence Committee, Coats and Rogers declined to confirm that Trump pressured them to end a probe into Michael Flynn. Rogers told the committee that he had not been “directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate.” Coats said that he “never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relationship to an ongoing investigation.”

 

 

During a trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Wednesday night, President Donald Trump returned to his comfort zone of the campaign rally, delivering a rambling speech resembling those he gave during his presidential campaign.

Trump bragged about his accomplishments in office and railed against Democrats and his favorite bogeyman, the media, in a speech that lasted for more than an hour.

Toward the beginning of his speech, the President touted Republican legislation to repeal Obamacare — the Senate GOP caucus is set to reveal its bill on Thursday. Trump complained about the lack of Democratic support for Republicans’ push to erase President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

“If we went and got the single greatest health care plan in the history of the world, we would not get one Democrat vote, because they’re obstructionists,” Trump said. “If we came to you and said, ‘Here’s your plan, you’re going to have the greatest plan in history, and you’re going to pay nothing,’ they’d vote against it, folks.”

He told the crowd that he wanted a “plan with heart,” even though a draft of the Senate bill proposed deeper funding cuts to Medicaid than the House version.

“If we had even a little Democrat support, just a little, like a couple of votes, you’d have everything. And you could give us a lot of votes and we’d even be willing to change it and move it around and try and make it even better,” Trump said. “But again, They just want to stop, they just want to obstruct. A few votes from the Democrats, seriously, a few votes from the Democrats, it could be so easy and so beautiful, and you’d have cooperation.”

Trump then pivoted to Democrats’ loss in the Georgia special election Tuesday night, bragging that Democrats spent millions only to lose the race.

“Their plan isn’t working because they thought they were going to win last night in Atlanta,” he said.

He also blasted the media for the way outlets covered the race.

“This phony NBC television network — they actually had one of the people say ‘It was a little rainy last night. Maybe that was the difference in Karen’s race,'” Trump told the crowd. “Can you believe that?”

At another point in the speech, Trump defended his decision to appoint wealthy businessmen to top cabinet roles, explaining that he doesn’t want “poor” people in that type of position.

“These are people that are great, brilliant business minds,” Trump said. “I love all people. Rich or poor. But in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense? Does that make sense? If you insist, I’ll do it—but I like it better this way, right?”

Democrats were doing some soul-searching Wednesday as to the party’s next steps going into 2018, after a months-long slog of an attempt to turn the ruby-red Georgia Sixth Congressional District blue ended in Republican Karen Handel’s decisive victory over Jon Ossoff.

Handel bested Ossoff by just under four points, after polls of the race’s final weeks showed the two candidates in a tight race. So in the hours since Handel secured a seat in Congress, some national Democrats have found a silver lining there, arguing that the fact that the race was competitive shows the party has a chance to make real gains in the 2018 midterms. But others on the party’s left flank argued that despite the relatively strong performance of Democratic candidates in this year’s special elections, the party needs to put forth a much stronger message going into the midterms.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Democrats’ campaign arm, sent out an internal memo on Wednesday morning rallying the troops and insisting that Democrats have a shot at taking back the House next year.

“Last night’s results in Georgia were disappointing – we wanted to win and left everything on the field. Despite the loss, we have a lot to be proud of. The margin was close in this deep red district, and Jon Ossoff pushed the race to the limit in both the primary and runoff by impressively mobilizing the base and persuading independents and moderate Republicans,” Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), the chair of the DCCC, wrote in the memo. “We will carry those key lessons forward in order to compete in districts as Republican-leaning as Georgia, and in the dozens and dozens of districts on our battlefield that are much more competitive.”

Luján acknowledged that reclaiming a majority in the House would be an incredibly tough fight, but he argued that “the national environment and historical trends are key indicators as well, and there’s no doubt that the momentum is on our side.” He predicted that Trump’s low approval ratings will benefit Democrats going forward.

Tharon Johnson, a Democratic strategist who has worked for several Georgia lawmakers, said Tuesday night’s election results were still a positive sign for Democrats going forward.

“We always knew this was going to be an uphill battle, so even though last night’s result was disappointing, it wasn’t heartbreaking,” Johnson said in a statement to TPM. “Democrats spent a lot of money in this race, but Republicans spent nearly as much to defend a ruby-red district. Keep in mind that all of these special elections so far have been for some of the most hardcore conservatives who were handpicked to serve Trump.”

“I’m not claiming a moral victory here – when it comes to making a change, all I care about are electoral victories,” he continued. “But if we can take districts that Republicans have historically carried by 15-20 points and come within 3-5 points, then I feel very confident about taking dozens of districts that the GOP carry by single digits in the midterms.”

Jesse Ferguson, a former DCCC operative and Hillary Clinton campaign aide, told TPM that Democrats’ overall performance in the 2017 special elections has shown they have a chance in the 2018 midterms.

“If Democrats over perform in 2018 by as much as Ossoff overperformed last night, Democrats take the House,” Ferguson said. “There are more than enough Republican held seats that would flip to Democrats if we did that well next fall.”

Ferguson said that Democrats need to push harder to link Republicans to President Donald Trump going forward.

“I think there’s more we can do to tie Republicans to Trump and make the debate about them,” he told TPM.

But asked if Ossoff should have done more to tie Handel to Trump, Ferguson replied, “I don’t think there is too much you can do to make that tie clear to voters.”

Particularly since he advanced to the runoff election in April, Ossoff shied away from talking about Trump as he honed a more moderate image. While he made it clear that he was not a big fan of Trump, he rarely mentioned the President’s name on the campaign trail and repeatedly pointed out that he would work with anyone if elected to Congress.

Ossoff did champion some liberal causes, arguing that the country needs to address climate change and criticizing Handel for her role in the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood. But he portrayed himself as a moderate, talking about wasteful spending and creating tech jobs, in an apparent attempt to appeal to Republican voters who were uneasy about Trump.

While some Democratic operatives played up the silver lining they saw in Ossoff’s loss, members of the party’s progressive wing said that candidates needed to strengthen the party’s message going forward.

Matt Blizek, the election mobilization director at MoveOn.org, noted that Ossoff and other Democratic candidates have over-performed and said that their races show that “progressives and the Democratic base is obviously really fired up.”

But he also said that Democrats need to promote a “bold, progressive vision” and that Ossoff “missed an opportunity to do that.”

“It was just not clear what Jon Ossoff stood for,” he told TPM.

Two Democratic lawmakers argued that Democrats needed to promote their own solutions for the country, rather than focus on Trump and the 2016 election.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said Wednesday morning that Democrats needed to hone their economic message in particular.

“Democrats have to be hyperfocused on an economic message that tells people that the Republican Party is all about economic growth for millionaires and billionaires and the Democratic Party is about economic growth for everybody,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “The fact that we have spent so much time talking about Russia, you know, has been a distraction from what should be the clear contrast between Democrats and the Trump agenda, which is on economics.”

Asked if Democrats should fine tune an economic message going forward, Ferguson told TPM that Democrats need to work on “offering a better alternative” to Trump’s agenda when campaigning. He said it’s clear that many Americans are unhappy with Trump’s agenda but “don’t yet have enough confidence in the Democratic alternative.”

It’s not just Democratic operatives that are projecting a certain optimism about the party’s chances in 2018 after Ossoff’s loss, however. Political analysts agree that Ossoff’s defeat Tuesday night doesn’t necessarily spell doom-and-gloom for Democrats.

Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman wrote that Tuesday night’s “results were far from a disaster for Democrats, and Republicans shouldn’t be tempted to believe their House majority is safe.” He noted that in the four special elections that have taken place since Trump took office, given the partisan make-up of those areas, Democratic candidates outperformed in all of them.

“That’s an enthusiasm gap that big enough to gravely imperil the Republican majority next November—even if it didn’t show up in ‘the special election to end all special elections,” Wasserman wrote.

Kyle Kondik, a House expert at the University of Virginia, also told TPM in an email that Democrats outperformed in this year’s special elections and noted that Trump’s approval ratings should worry Republicans going into 2018.

“Democrats are generally running ahead of Clinton’s margins in U.S. House and state legislative special elections, even though they did not in GA-6,” Kondik wrote. “With a president at 40% approval, the party that doesn’t hold the White House should, historically, have a shot at making big gains in the House, and last night’s results don’t change that.”

After Republican Karen Handel decisively defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff in the Georgia special election, President Donald Trump published a series of tweets bragging about Republican wins.

Trump reveled in the fact that Democrats spent millions trying to make the House races competitive but ultimately came up short.

Republicans won special elections for House seats representing in Georgia, South Carolina, Montana, and Kansas this year.

Republican Karen Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff Tuesday in a special election to fill a Georgia congressional seat, dashing Democrats’ hopes of flipping a House district in order to build momentum ahead of the 2018 midterms.

Polling had been showing a tight race, with several recent surveys showing Ossoff just ahead of Handel. However, a poll released Monday evening had the two candidates neck-and neck. As of Wednesday morning, Handel led Ossoff by just under four points, with all precincts reporting, though the secretary of state has yet to certify the results.

Democrats had hoped that they could harness the anti-Trump energy in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District, located in the Atlanta suburbs and brimming with well-educated voters, to take over what had for several decades been a solidly Republican seat. Though now-Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price handily won re-election there in November, President Donald Trump only won the district by one point, signaling that the seat could be up for grabs. But Handel’s win suggests Republicans can outrun Trump’s low approval ratings.

Handel began her victory speech Tuesday night by thanking her supporters and her cheerleaders in Republican leadership, including President Donald Trump. She then thanked House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), who was seriously injured last week in a shooting at the congressional Republicans’ baseball practice. Handel thanked Scalise for his support and called for her supporters to “lift up” the injured Republican.

She told the crowd that Americans must “find a more civil way to deal with our disagreements” because “no one should ever feel their life threatened over their political beliefs and position,” adding that that goes for “both sides of the political aisle.”

Handel told her supporters that she is “humbled and honored” to represent the sixth district in Congress, mentioning predecessors like Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA).

She also noted that she will be the first Republican woman to represent Georgia in Congress, which she said reminded her “that anything is possible” with hard work, determination, and support from those who believe in you.

Ossoff delivered his concession speech just before 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night, thanking his supporters and his family. He said that this race showed that voters can make a statement “at a time when politics has been dominated by fear and hatred and scapegoating and division.”

“This is not the outcome many of us were hoping for. But this is the beginning of something much bigger than us,” he said.

The Associated Press called the race for Handel around 10:15 p.m. Tuesday night

Just as the networks began calling the race for Handel around 10 p.m., the House Republicans’ campaign arm sent out a statement congratulating Handel on the win.

“I am thrilled to congratulate Karen Handel on her resounding victory tonight in Georgia’s 6th District,” said National Republican Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Stivers said in a statement. “For all the Democrats’ bluster and despite pouring over $30 million into this race, I couldn’t be more proud to help keep this seat in Republican hands.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) also quickly congratulated Handel.

“Democrats from coast to coast threw everything they had at this race, and Karen would not be defeated,” Ryan said in a statement.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Democrats’ campaign arm, said that while Ossoff lost, the fact that he made the race competitive shows promise for Democrats.

“Although we fell short tonight, it’s important to take a step back and recognize what Jon and the DCCC achieved together. In a very conservative district where Democrats rarely break the mid-30’s and Republicans enjoy a massive registration advantage, Jon and his supporters pushed the race to the limit, vastly outperforming past Democrats in both the primary and the runoff,” DCCC Chair Ben Ray Luján said in a statement.

“There are more than 70 districts more favorable to Democrats than this deep-red district, and Ossoff’s close margin demonstrates the potential for us to compete deep into the battlefield,” he added. “The strong headwinds facing Republicans, incredible grassroots enthusiasm behind Democrats, and a damaged and exposed House Republican Caucus all clarify that we have the momentum heading into 2018.”

Though the race only lasted a few months, it drew intense national scrutiny and record spending. Total spending in the race hit about $50 million with Ossoff raising about $23 million for his own campaign. Handel relied more on spending from outside groups. Both sides flooded the airwaves with political ads, prompting local stations in the area to add news programming to their lineups just to accommodate the flood of advertisements.

After enduring intense campaigning from both sides, voters in Georgia’s sixth district finally trudged to the polls through the rain on Tuesday. The area saw torrential downpour and a flash flood warning was issued for parts of the district.

A former Georgia secretary of state, Handel pitched herself to voters as an experienced politician with deep roots in Georgia. She contrasted herself with Ossoff, who she repeatedly criticized for not living in the district (Ossoff grew up in the district, but currently lives just outside of the district while his fiancee attends medical school). She also tried to appeal to the Republican roots in the district by trying to tie Ossoff to national Democratic bogeymen like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), while Ossoff, for his part, went after Handel over her time at the Susan G. Komen Foundation. As the group’s vice president for public policy, Handel played a role in their decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood.

Handel held a fundraiser with the President in April, but did not associate herself with the Trump much beyond then, presumably due to his unpopularity in the district. However, in the final weeks of the race she brought in Price, Vice President Mike Pence and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the former Georgia governor.

Despite Handel’s half-hearted embrace of Trump, the President published tweets early Tuesday morning urging his followers to vote for Handel.

Correction: This post originally stated that Handel said she would be the first woman to represent Georgia in Congress. She said she would be the first Republican woman to represent the state.

 

Polls in Georgia closed at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday for the special election to fill an open U.S. House seat representing Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District.

At least two polling places in DeKalb County will stay open until 7:30 p.m. due to equipment issues earlier in the day.

As voters headed to the polls to cast ballots for either Democrat Jon Ossoff or Republican Karen Handel, they faced some inclement weather. The area saw torrential downpour on Tuesday and a flash flood warning was issued for parts of the district.

Republican congressional candidate Karen Handel complained about the state of journalism in an interview Monday with Ben Jacobs, the Guardian reporter who was assaulted last month by a GOP candidate in Montana.

“The lack of civility in society as a whole, some of it, I believe, is very much fueled by social media and frankly, it’s fueled by the fact that journalism is not journalism any more,” Handel told Jacobs on the eve of the special U.S. House election in Georgia. “It’s tabloid. It’s 24/7 news – people get in the middle of a news cycle for 24 hours off of things that previously would never have gotten the kind of coverage that is happening.”

Asked if she was pointing “fingers at the journalism,” Handel replied, “No, don’t put words in my mouth, Ben.”

“I had a very broad sentence. See, this is exactly what happens and why things are really broken. You don’t listen and you put words in people’s mouth,” Handel told the reporter.

She added that both social media and journalism have fueled what she called a “lack of civility.” Handel then zeroed in on trackers from liberal groups (political organizations frequently send staffers to track the opposing candidate).

“The anger has been from the left with groups of trackers showing up and literally adopting a gang-like posture and virtually stalking individuals,” she said.

During a debate in early June, Handel distanced herself from the Montana congressman-elect, Greg Gianforte, after he promoted her campaign in a fundraising email for the House Republicans’ campaign arm. But she also lamented that people “on both sides of the aisle” have become aggressive toward politicians.

Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault the night before he was elected to the U.S. House after he grabbed Jacobs by the neck, slammed him to the ground, and punched him. Gianforte eventually acknowledged that he assaulted Jacobs and apologized to the reporter.

On the morning of the runoff election in Georgia’s Sixth District, Democrat Jon Ossoff said that he will stand up to President Donald Trump when necessary and expressed concern about the “competence and integrity” of his administration, using a harsher tone about the President than he has over the past couple of months of campaigning.

During an interview on MSNBC, host Stephanie Ruhle noted that Ossoff has rarely mentioned Trump since he secured the top spot in the runoff to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, despite launching his campaign as an anti-Trump candidate. She asked him where he stands now.

Ossoff offered more criticism for the administration than usual, but still avoided painting himself as a purely anti-Trump candidate.

“Actually, I think the concerns regarding the competence and integrity of this administration have only grown over time and it speaks to the need for a greater focus on accountability, on effective congressional oversight, not as a partisan matter but a matter of public interest,” he told Ruhle.

“While I don’t expect a congratulatory tweet from the President if I win, and he may not be my biggest fan, I’ll try to find common ground to work with him if we can serve the needs of metro Atlanta by working together, and I won’t hesitate to stand up to him if he threatens our interests or our values,” Ossoff added.

Ruhle asked Ossoff how he could stick to such a plan when the Democratic Party is focused on resistance to Trump.

The candidate replied that he will remain focused on what’s best for his district.

“Where bipartisanship is the best way to achieve those ends, I’ll seek bipartisanship. Where standing up to proposals that aren’t in this community’s interest, I’ll do that. The only test I’ll apply to policy or legislation is does it serve the community I’m seeking to represent,” he said.

Ossoff is right that Trump isn’t his biggest fan. Early on Tuesday morning, Trump sent out tweets bashing Ossoff and urging his followers to vote for Republican Karen Handel.

The special election to fill the Georgia congressional seat vacated by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has garnered intense national scrutiny and record spending in just a few months, and the top two candidates will finally face off in Tuesday’s runoff.

The race in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District is seen as Democrats’ final chance to sweep a House seat away from Republicans and create a tailwind going into the 2018 midterms. But while the outcome of the race could determine in part the momentum the Democratic party has going forward, experts say the result will not necessarily serve as a good predictor for the midterms.

National observers also view the race as a referendum on President Donald Trump, with Democrats hoping that anti-Trump energy in Georgia will propel their candidate, Jon Ossoff, to victory and prove how much of a liability the deeply unpopular President can be to the Republican Party.

With such high stakes, the race has attracted about $50 million in spending, bombarding residents of the sixth district with wall-to-wall political ads. Local stations actually added news programs to help accommodate the flood of ads.

Ossoff has seen a small lead over Republican Karen Handel in some of the latest polls of the race, but surveys of sixth district voters have shown a very tight race throughout. A poll released by local TV station WSB on the eve of the election showed the two candidates literally neck-and-neck, with Ossoff leading Handel by a tenth of a percentage point among likely voters.

Here are six things to watch out for as results roll in Tuesday night:

Turnout 

Marc Rountree, the president of Landmark Communications, a Republican consulting and polling firm, told TPM that Ossoff should benefit if turnout on Tuesday is similar to turnout in the jungle primary or otherwise very high, while somewhat high turnout could help Handel.

Typically, high turnout is a good sign for Democratic candidates. But as Georgians head to the polls, the sheer number of voters casting ballots will not necessarily help predict the winner, according to Kyle Kondik, an expert on congressional elections with the University of Virginia.

“It’s possible that high turnout could actually benefit Republicans,” Kondik said.

Kondik added that the race is hard to predict since it’s possible that voters who don’t come out to the polls regularly are participating in this race.

In the initial round of voting that sent Ossoff and Handel to the runoff, more than 190,000 people voted total, with 57,000 of them voting early. More than 140,000 people voted early for this runoff election, but it remains to be seen whether the early vote signals a higher turnout is likely for in-person voting Tuesday.

How many Republicans break for Ossoff

Though the demographics in Georgia’s sixth district appear to be shifting to benefit Democrats, Ossoff will still need a significant number of Republican voters to cast a ballot for him in order to win the race.

The district is historically a Republican stronghold, and Price handily won re-election there in 2016 before vacating the seat. But the demographics in the district have been shifting in a way that could benefit Democrats. In 1992, 90 percent of residents in the district were white, while today 70 percent of residents there are white, per Politico.

Still, Kondik estimated that Ossoff will need about 20 percent of Republicans to vote for him in order to secure the House seat. Ossoff is well aware of this: though he launched his campaign in an anti-Trump spirit, lately he has been pitching himself as a moderate willing to work with both parties in Congress in an attempt to appeal to Republicans in the district.

It will be hard to determine just how many Republicans ultimately voted for Ossoff, however. Georgia does not require voters to register with a party and allows residents to vote in the party primary of their choice, making it difficult to pinpoint how many voters are Republicans. Analysts must rely on voters’ past primary voting patterns to determine their party affiliation.

How record-shattering spending levels impact the result

Though much has been made of the special election’s national implications, one aspect of the race is truly singular: its record spending. The candidates and outside groups together have spent about $50 million on the race, the most ever spent on a U.S. House race.

Ossoff has raised at least $23 million for his own campaign, while Handel has benefitted from major spending from outside groups like the Congressional Leadership Fund. Yet experts say the amount of money and attention the race has attracted isn’t likely to be replicated in future elections, making the Georgia special election a poor indicator for future races.

Rountree told TPM that spending in the election has “gotten so out of hand” that he believes the race “doesn’t say anything about the 2018 election anymore.” Candidates in the district will not be able to replicate that level of spending over and over again, he said.

Kondik said that he was unsure of the exact impact the record spending has had on the sixth district race, but he did note that attention and funds will be more spread out in future elections.

“The level of interest is just going to be different and more dispersed in 2018,” he said.

What role the congressional baseball shooting plays 

There’s a chance that Tuesday’s results could be impacted by last week’s tragic shooting at a congressional Republicans’ baseball practice, which left several people injured, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

A poll released Monday evening by WSB-TV and conducted by Landmark Communications indicates that the shooting could motivate Republicans to head to the polls. The survey found 46 percent of Republicans said that the shooting and a suspicious package sent to Handel’s house last week would make them more likely to vote on Tuesday. Just 24.7 percent of Democrats polled said the events last week would make them more likely to head to the polls.

Rountree, whose firm conducted the poll, told TPM that the survey indicates the shooting could be a “major factor” for Handel.

“These stories have resonated with Republican primary voters,” he said.

Indeed, some Republicans have sought to use the shooting to Handel’s benefit in the race’s final days. The conservative Principled PAC tried to link Ossoff to the shooting in a TV ad, which both Ossoff and Handel denounced, while the Republican Party chair in a neighboring Georgia district predicted that the “shooting is going to win this election” for the GOP.

What the margin of victory says about Democrats’ momentum

This special election has prompted intense national scrutiny, with Democrats pinning virtually all their hopes on Georgia’s sixth district to be the first of many red or purple districts they want to swing blue.

Trey Hood, a political science professor at the University of Georgia, said that if Ossoff loses, no matter the margin, it won’t be good for Democrats.

“If Ossoff comes close, but he loses, I don’t think it’ll matter,” Hood told TPM.

Kondik, however, argued that if Ossoff loses but still performs better than Hillary Clinton did in the district it’ll show that Democrats will be able to build on Clinton’s numbers from the 2016 election going forward.

Obviously, it’s a good sign for Democrats going forward if Ossoff wins. At the very least, Kondik said, Ossoff winning the race will bring Democrats one seat closer to winning back a majority in the 2018 election.

“If he wins, I think it’s possible that it could further energize Democrats in Georgia,” Hood told TPM.

Yet Kondik, Hood and Rountree all warned against using the Georgia special election as a predictor for the 2018 midterms.

“Just because the conditions suggest one thing now, doesn’t mean the conditions will be the same in 2018,” Kondik told TPM. But he added that if Trump’s approval rating remains the same, an Ossoff win could suggest that Republicans will have a poor showing in 2018.

What the results say about how far left Georgia’s sixth has swung

If Ossoff ekes out a win, the special election may prove that Georgia’s sixth district has shifted from red to purple.

Kondik argued that the mere fact that the special election is so close shows that it is now a swing district.

“I think Ossoff’s basically already proven that this district is competitive,” he told TPM.

Hood also noted that he is seeing “shifting demographics” in the district that show it becoming more favorable to Democrats, but he added that he does not think that demographic shift alone accounted for Trump’s poor showing there in 2016.

TPM composite by Christine Frapech

With just one day until polls open in the special election to fill an open U.S. House seat in Georgia, the candidates are making their final appeals to voters in a race that has obliterated all-time spending records and come under a national microscope as a bellweather for Democrats’ chances of flipping districts under a historically unpopular President Donald Trump.

Republican Karen Handel, who is hoping to defend the GOP’s historic hold on the Sixth Congressional District, brought in some of the party’s big names to rally with her over the weekend. Both Sonny Perdue, the former governor of Georgia who now serves as President Donald Trump’s agriculture secretary, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, whose congressional seat Handel is vying to fill, appeared at rallies for Handel, while House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) also made an appearance alongside Handel Monday.

Perdue criticized Ossoff’s attempts to appeal to disaffected Republican voters.

“The leftists have gone and typecast and they’ve picked this young man — charismatic, articulate — and they’ve taught him a few Republican buzzwords,” the former governor said at a Handel event. “They think he can fool you. It’s not gonna happen.”

Trump himself has not visited the district since appearing a fundraiser for Handel in April, but he urged voters to turn out for her in a Monday morning tweet:

Democrat Jon Ossoff has focused less on having big-name Democrats campaign for him, but did bring in civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (R-GA) for an event on Saturday. The Democrat also held get-out-the-vote rallies and appeared at events with the canvassers helping his campaign knock on doors in the final stretch.

Ossoff and Handel are locked in a tight race to fill the seat vacated by Price when he joined Trump’s Cabinet. Since Trump won the district by just one point in the November election, Democrats are hopeful that they can capitalize on his unpopularity and flip the ruby-red district blue in Tuesday’s runoff election.

Ossoff fell just short of winning the seat outright in April’s jungle primary, when he netted 48 percent of the vote. Polls have shown a tight race in the final stretch before the runoff between Ossoff and Handel, but most recent surveys have shown Ossoff with a slight lead.

High turnout is expected in the hotly contested race, especially given that more than 140,000 people cast ballots early, including 36,000 people who did not vote in the initial April 18 jungle primary.

The race has attracted record-shattering spending, to the tune of about $50 million—making it the most expensive House race ever—and intense national attention, with outside groups injecting national politics into the House race.

The conservative Principled PAC released an ad over the weekend that tries to link Ossoff to last week’s shooting at the Republican congressional team’s baseball practice. Both campaigns quickly condemned the ad.

Conservatives also have spent a lot of time trying to tie Ossoff to national Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and celebrities like Kathy Griffin, who got into hot water after she did a photo shoot with a fake severed head modeled after Trump.

While Ossoff did launch his campaign as something of a Trump resister, he’s since dialed that messaging back, instead presenting himself as a moderate looking to work with both parties.

“I think this race is about who can deliver for this community more than it’s about national politics,” Ossoff told NBC News in an interview published Saturday. “There are many in the community who do have serious concerns about the direction the administration is taking us in and I’m one of them and those concerns have only grown over time. But fundamentally what people want from their representative is the kind of results that improve quality of life.”

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