Opinion: An important corrective about Jon Ossoff’s Georgia money

You know what they say about that word “assume,” and what it does to “u” and “me.” Well, I made an assumption in Wednesday’s post about Jon Ossoff’s in-state fund-raising total, and that turned out to be a mistake.

Jon Ossoff (AJC Photo / Hyosub Shin)

So as not to bury the lede: Ossoff has raised significantly more from Georgians than the $79,000 I calculated in that post. It was actually about $588,000 through his initial filing. That’s obviously a huge difference, and I apologize for publishing the wrong figure.

Now I’ll explain how it happened. The short version is the 97 percent figure in that WSJ graphic I relied on, as outlined in the original post, doesn’t reflect the share of Ossoff’s itemized contributions that came from outside Georgia. That figure is actually about 78 percent. And when you’re talking about $2.6 million, a 19-point swing makes a big difference. About half a million dollars’ worth.

Here’s the longer version: The Ossoff campaign called me to challenge the figure I had for them. I explained how I’d arrived at it, and they sent me a spreadsheet with their numbers. I checked their numbers against what’s filed at the Federal Election Commission’s website, and the campaign is correct.

Let me say here that I didn’t simply run with the WSJ numbers yesterday without doing any verification. I tested my methodology against reports from two of the five Republican candidates listed, and it checked out with them. That’s when I made my assumption: that the other figures, and hence my methodology, would also be correct for the other four candidates, including Ossoff.

It was a bad assumption.

After the call from the Ossoff campaign, I downloaded all six candidates’ FEC reports and checked (or re-checked) them against the figures in Wednesday’s post. For the five Republican candidates, they were all right, or very close to right. For example, both the WSJ and I got 11 percent for Karen Handel’s out-of-state donations. They got 17 percent for Judson Hill, I got 13 percent. The other Republicans were also in the ballpark.

But, as I stated above, when I ran the numbers for Ossoff I got 78 percent instead of 97 percent. Why such a large discrepancy? I’m not totally sure. Maybe, in Ossoff’s case alone, the comparison was not against all itemized contributions, but against all contributions. The Ossoff campaign itself has made that comparison — even though, as I explained in yesterday’s post, that’s really not even fair to themselves because some of the non-itemized contributions are bound to be from Georgians; the public just doesn’t know how many. And when I compared Ossoff’s out-of-state, itemized contributions to his total contributions, I got 93 percent. That’s about as close to the WSJ’s figures as what I got for the Republican candidates, so maybe that’s what happened. There could be another explanation, but at this point I’m not sure it matters. There’s no explanation that reduces Ossoff’s in-state contributions to anything close to $79,000.

So to be clear, my mistake was verifying only some of the numbers, not all of them. Had I done the latter, I wouldn’t have made this regrettable error.

***

How does this new information change my analysis from yesterday? The basic point — I think Ossoff is not seeing the kind of local financial boom that would signal an electoral groundswell in the district — remains the same. Admittedly, however, the numbers backing up that opinion aren’t nearly as stark as what I originally wrote. For example, when comparing the in-state total for those five Republicans to his, the ratio is closer to 2:1 rather than 11:1. That’s much less of a gap. At the same time, it is also true that receiving more than a third of the in-state donations in this race is in line with the share of the vote Democrats usually get in Sixth District races. It’s about what you’d expect in a truly contested race (as opposed to the light opposition, electorally and financially, Tom Price faced in the district as an incumbent in recent years).

It also remains true that Ossoff’s in-state/out-of-state proportion is vastly different from the Republicans’. His proportion among itemized contributions is 22 percent in-state, 78 percent out-of-state; the five Republicans’ is pretty much the opposite of that at 83 percent in-state, 17 percent out-of-state. No matter how you slice it, his is a campaign overwhelmingly driven by financial support from outside Georgia.

Finally, while I was wading through the spreadsheets I decided to take the extra step of sorting the Georgia donations by ZIP code to see how many come from the Sixth District vs. other parts of the state. After all, support in the district was the point of the original post.

Here’s what I found:

  • Ossoff: about $213,000, or 8 percent of his itemized contributions
  • Hill: about $202,000, or 51 percent of his itemized contributions
  • Handel: about $175,000, or 46 percent of her itemized contributions
  • Bob Gray: about $95,000, or 53 percent of his itemized contributions
  • Dan Moody: about $72,000, or 70 percent of his itemized contributions
  • Bruce LeVell: about $21,000, or 43 percent of his itemized contributions

Collectively, the Republicans got right at half of their itemized contributions from people who listed ZIP codes in the district, compared to less than 10 percent for Ossoff. Their total of about $565,000 represents a ratio of almost 3:1 over his total (still keeping in mind that non-itemized donations could change matters). So again, not as stark a difference as yesterday’s post portrayed, but still well within the normal Republican/Democrat breakdown in the district rather than a sign of sweeping change.

Reader Comments 0

102 comments
ssinf
ssinf

Glad you admitted your mistake, but it seems that you reached a conclusion then stopped as soon as you found evidence to support said conclusion. When you first made the argument, knowing nothing else, things looked a little fishy to me. I have no training as a journalist, but why didn't you contact the Ossoff campaign BEFORE posting your information? No offense, but with an $8 million haul, I'm betting they have a few more and better number crunchers on staff than yourself.

Jerry
Jerry

Again &, for the final time, at least for a significant number of zip code 30327 residents--several neighborhoods are meeting tomorrow to kick Fake AJC to the curb &, encourage others in the zip code, which I'm sure you're familiar with, &, beyond, to do the same! Sinking to a new low, Fake News @ AJC has locked arms with Trump &, The Grand Old Party, &, intentionally &, promonately, pushed &, published a beyond fantastical tale, in an attempt to undermine Jon Ossoff’s campaign just as early voting comes to a close. As for your piss-poor "correction" of your alleged "assumption--clearly, Willful &, Beyond Transparent, GOP LIES &, Blatantly Less Than Mediocre &, subscribers Insulting "correction"! Goodbye AJC, unlike you, I won't LIE &, say I'll miss, because I won't!

Another comment
Another comment

Let's all remember the dumbstruck look on Secretary Kemp's Face on Election night when Cobb County went for Cobb County. He could not release those numbers until after 11:00 P.M.

dphawkins12
dphawkins12

Who knew republicans up for election would make up facts? Right? Like, who knew?


Paul-jr
Paul-jr

Ossoff is a crock hate him

DavidATL45
DavidATL45

Three additional errors: The first is not recognizing that the WSJ has become an organ of the Republicans; the second is that percentages and proportions don't matter - the dollar value of raw contributions do; three, loads of outside conservative PAC money has gone into television advertising and not channeled through the Republican candidates.

Caius
Caius

I do not live in that district and have paid little attention to the race there.  But, has anyone seen any private polling on the race?


Starik
Starik

@Caius I wouldn't rely too much on polls. A couple of weeks ago I quit answering calls from unknown callers.

GAResident9
GAResident9

Nothing makes me happier than knowing how the left (Finn McCrap) etc all live in GA. You are surrounded by a sea of red.


HAHHAHAHAHAAHAHH!

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@GAResident9


GA is a beautiful state. But the metro Atlanta area by far very left leaning. So you got both worlds here.

GAResident9
GAResident9

The Demokkkrat Party is full of old, ugly white people. 

What happened to diversity? 

TheCentrist
TheCentrist

@GAResident9 Yep, the Demokkkrat Party is just another synonym for a party now dominated by social conservatives.  

GAResident9
GAResident9

Left winger predictions:


Moochelle None will win.


Jason Carter will win.

Hillary Clinton will win.


I hope all of you didn't bet your mom's double wide trailers over these predictions.

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

@GAResident9 No, we bet your mom's double wide on those outcomes. That's why she is now living under a bridge.

TheCentrist
TheCentrist

@GAResident9 Right winger predictions:


Ted Cruz will win

Jeb Bush will win

Marco Rubio will win

Chris Christy will win



GAResident9
GAResident9

Who is the current leader of the demokkkrat party? 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

I see LibProg posts below which show they are finally moving to another stage of denial on Trump's election.

My favorite however remains - that Hillary got more votes.

Yes, agreed, but that and money will buy you a cup of coffee.

The wisdom of the Electoral College could not be more clear. 

GAResident9
GAResident9

@JohnnyReb


This reminds me of a few years ago when the left wingers on the AJC were saying things like "Moochelle None and Jason Carter would win big."

People in GA are not going to put Ossoff in office.

DeepStateDawg
DeepStateDawg

@JohnnyReb Not sure what a LibProg is. Is that "them"? 


And there's no denying that America elected a spoiled, trust-fund wealthy, pathological liar with an inferiority complex and no record of achievement to be president. That actually happened. 


The fact that Hillary received more votes is instructive for several reasons, mainly that a majority of Americans did not actually vote for Donald. And of those who did vote for him (which is a minority of the country), a minority of that group actually like him. 


So what that means is that a particularly vocal subset of the population was able to, for irrational reasons, via questionable means and outright lies, impose their preference for an unqualified candidate on the rest of us. 


The interesting part, other than whether or not he will drag us down in to a irrecoverable mess like a war with China or N. Korea, etc..., will be how the electorate reacts in four years. 


Til then, this is just entertainment. You know, watching all the backflips the GOP is having to do to rationalize their leader, a thin-skinned unprincipled person of no moral standing; a person who would deny a very ill member of his own family medical coverage just so he could win an argument. 


As they say, "good luck with that". 

MarkVV
MarkVV

@GAResident9 @MarkVV @JohnnyReb If you do not understand English, go back to school to learn. If you do not understand arguments, go to learn ...no, it is too late for you.

bu22
bu22

@DeepStateDawg @JohnnyReb Well when its a choice between that and a spoiled, delusional (she still doesn't understand why she lost), corruption wealthy, pathological liar with a superiority complex and a record of consistent failure that was forced on us by a monied minority through cheating in the other party...

MarkVV
MarkVV

@JohnnyReb When election of the Liar-in-Chief Donald Trump is submitted as proof of the wisdom of the Electoral College, it is enough to show the bankruptcy of that arrangement.

And no matter how you mock it, Hillary DID GET MORE VOTES.

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

Kyle Wingfield, pusher of fake news.

Conservatives won't do the work to get to the truth. That is why we have an idiot as President.

Thanks Conservatives. You are ruining this great country.

DeepStateDawg
DeepStateDawg

@Finn-McCool The truth is a pretty tricky thing, ain't it? I think they're working for their own truth... pretty hard in fact.  


For some folks, Trump's incessant, irrefutable flip-flopping over the last few weeks is a sign of strength. 


His constant lying is not to be taken literally - you have to read between the lines. 


All the failures in his efforts to date, like the healthcare situation, are Obama's fault - "believe me".


Takes some hard work to get to some of those conclusions.  

DeepStateDawg
DeepStateDawg

@Finn-McCool @DeepStateDawg Eh. I'm thinking it's a valuable lesson in "careful what you wish for". 


Methinks there are quite a few moderates & center right folks out there who are re assessing their prior assumptions about how things work, or don't. 


A minority of a minority enabled this. 

Resist Trump
Resist Trump

Don't worry, JohnnyRacist - the government's investigation into President Twit's collusion will bring him down.

Resist Trump
Resist Trump

@GAResident9 @Resist Trump

I would if I could, snowflake, but I don't own a double wide. However, to the extent you have something of equal value, I'll wager my 911 GT3 RS (the red one, not the silver one).