Clint Owens | News Editor, Red and Black
Georgia’s 6th district special congressional election between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel has attracted nationwide attention in recent weeks. It’s a tight race. According to a poll conducted by WSB-Landmark Communications on June 17, Ossoff leads with 49.7 percent to Handel’s 48 percent.
According to Trey Hood, a Professor in the department of political science at the University of Georgia, and the director of the SPIA survey research center, there are multiple reasons that this congressional election has received so much attention.
Hood said some of the Democratic momentum could be in reaction to President Trump, and Democrats being galvanized by a desire to express their electoral preferences.
“The Democrats, especially the Democrats in Georgia, are looking for any kind of electoral spark possible, and maybe this will be it, I don’t know,” Hood said.
According to the WSB-Landmark Communications poll, 78 percent of Handel voters have a favorable opinion of President Trump, while 91 percent of Ossoff voters have an unfavorable opinion of the president.
According to Hood, the changing demographics in GA’s 6th district are also an important factor in the election, but that regardless of what happens on election day it will remain a Republican-leaning district. Hood said that it is also not solely a demographic effect.
Hood said that the large amount of money that has been directed at the election is also a factor in its recognition, with much of the funding coming from outside the state. Hood noted the recent presence of spill-over campaign television ads in areas surrounding Atlanta, due to surplus campaign funds.
“It’s the most expensive congressional contest in history, the airwaves are saturated. I don’t think they could get any more saturated,” Hood said.
According to an analysis conducted by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the funds directed at the race total roughly $30 million.
Hood said it is difficult to infer how a victory for Democrats momentum could carry over into David Kim’s race for the 7th district against Kathleen Allen and Rob Woodall.
According to Hood, a win by Ossoff may not affect the future of the Democratic Party, Democratic office holders or those Democrats seeking office in Georgia in the future overall.
According to Hood, it’s difficult to determine the scale of the effects this district election could have on other areas in the state, but that a win for Democrats could “have an effect in the upcoming midterm elections, if Democrats even over here see that there was a success in the Atlanta area, then that’s at least a possibility.”
Hood said that if Ossoff comes in second, even a close second, “it’s not going to mean much for the Democrats.”
Early voting has finished in the 6th district, and the runoff election will be held on June 20, 2017.