In Special Election in GA’s 6th Congressional District, 4 Republican Candidates Splinter Conservative Vote; Democrat Ossoff Gets Lion’s Share of Moderate and Liberal Vote, Is Clear Front-Runner, 2 Weeks Till Votes Are Counted, Who Could Win Seat Outright
18 names, including 11 Republicans, are on the ballot in the 04/18/17 special election to fill the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives left vacant when Republican Tom Price resigned to become Donald Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. And though Price has won GA-06 with 62%, 66%, and 65% of the vote in the last 3 elections, it is a Democrat who leads at this hour, 2 weeks till votes are counted, according to SurveyUSA research conducted exclusively for WXIA-TV in Atlanta.
Jon Ossoff, a filmmaker, former journalist, and former congressional staffer, gets 43% of the vote “today,” impressive given that there are 4 other Democrats on the ballot who, combined, get 4% of the vote.
The top 4 Republican finishers — Karen Handel (15%), Bob Gray (14%), Dan Moody (7%), Judson Hill (5%) — carve up the conservative constituency. If Republicans are able to keep Democrat Ossoff from getting 50% of the vote on 04/18/17, then Republicans will be able to consolidate behind the top GOP finisher, be that Handel or Gray, and take-on Ossoff one-on-one in a runoff 06/20/17.
But: should Ossoff reach 50% in the 18-person field, the Democrats flip the seat from Red to Blue without a runoff, fueling speculation about whether the Democrats may re-capture the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 mid-term elections, as backlash against heavy-handed President Trump.
Ossoff’s support is young, educated and affluent. The younger and wealthier the electorate, the better Ossoff will do. Among Democrats, he gets 86% of the vote; among Strong Democrats he gets 85% of the vote; among those who are somewhat liberal, he gets 92% of the vote, among those who are very liberal, he gets 91%. Of those who voted for Republican Price in 2016, 13% cross-over and vote for the Democrat Ossoff in 2017.
Republican Handel’s support is old and white. Republican Gray’s support is middle-aged, middle-income and Evangelical. Of voters who say Congress should stay focused on health care, Handel leads Gray 22% to 8%. Of voters who say Congress should turn its attention to tax reform, Gray leads Handel 30% to 25%.
By 5:4, voters in GA-06 say a special investigator should be named to look into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 Presidential election. Of those who favor a special investigator, Ossoff gets 73% of the vote. Of those who oppose a special investigator, Gray gets 29%, Handel gets 28%.
A majority of special election voters say the Affordable Care Act should be left in place but improved. Within this group, Ossoff gets 75% of the vote. Of voters who say that the Affordable Care Act should be repealed entirely, Gray edges Handel 32% to 31%.
Context: 900 registered voters were interviewed by SurveyUSA 03/27/17 through 04/02/17, using voter-list sample provided by Aristotle in Washington DC. Of the 900 registered voters, 503 were determined by SurveyUSA to have already voted or to be likely to do so before the deadline. This research was conducted 100% by telephone: 68% of likely voters were interviewed on their home telephones in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. 32% of likely voters were interviewed on their cell phones, using live operators, who hand-dialed the respondent’s cell phone, secured the respondent’s cooperation, qualified the respondent as a voter, asked the questions, entered the answers, and remained on the line until the survey was completed. Polling Congressional Districts is challenging even under ideal circumstances. Polling for a special election, where nothing else is on the ballot, and where turnout could be a fraction of what it was in the 2016 general election, is even more challenging. Some news reports indicate that Republicans have started to spend money in GA-06 only in the past couple of days. If Republicans make a significant media buy in the remaining 2 weeks, Ossoff’s support may be overstated here, and his chances of winning the seat outright on 04/18/17 would be reduced. To the extent that Democrats see Ossoff and 04/18/17 as their best shot at flipping the seat, and spend dollars accordingly, the fight will be to the finish.