Opinion: In Georgia’s 6th, the costliest of defeats for Democrats

A supporter of Jon Ossoff wears a sweater she made with the “Flip the Sixth” slogan to his election-night watch party, June 20. (AJC Photo / Jason Getz)

In November, Hillary Clinton virtually ignored Georgia, and Atlanta’s vote-rich but potentially persuadable suburbs, while campaigning in Wisconsin Michigan other states. But by sheer dint of not being Donald Trump, who struck a number of reliably Republican women as beyond the pale, Clinton won 46.8 percent in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District — more than 9 percentage points better than Barack Obama fared just four years earlier. Democrats thought that, with some real effort on their part along with an uneven (to say the least) start to the Trump administration, they might get past the finish line. When Tom Price resigned to join the Trump cabinet, they rallied to a young and disciplined candidate and ultimately gave him some $30 million to spend in parts of three counties over about four months.

It was enough to push them Tuesday night all the way up to … 48.1 percent. Thirty million dollars, for a gain of one-point-three percentage points over Clinton’s showing. It has the look of a real ceiling: In the first round in April, Jon Ossoff won 48.12 percent; on Tuesday, after spending millions more, he won 48.13 percent. All of which is why the result of the 6th’s special election has to be seen as a catastrophe for Democrats.

***

The Trump era has so far been a series of teases for Democrats. They came up just short in Kansas, then in Montana, and also on Tuesday in South Carolina. But nowhere was their money and manpower and message as concentrated as in GA-6. Educated and affluent, it’s the kind of district where their “coalition of the ascendant” is supposed to, well, ascend in the time of Trump. Nationally, the race was billed as a referendum on the president. That narrative always seemed more dubious locally: Local voters tend to be more interested in whether their congressman’s office will answer their phone calls and check on their Social Security and, yes, vote the “right way” when the big votes come. But since that’s the way it was cast, let’s evaluate it in those terms.

The Trump presidency is now real, and sometimes disappointing, and always unpredictable, in ways that were only theoretical before Nov. 8. And yet, exactly five months after Trump took office, the candidate deemed his proxy improved on his showing by 3.6 points, almost triple the gain for the Democrat. If it was a referendum on Trump, we can only say that Trump passed the test.

But again, this election wasn’t merely a referendum on Trump. There were real people standing for office: a political veteran seeking redemption, in the Republican Karen Handel, and a newcomer in the Democrat Ossoff. I’ll have more to say about Handel personally in a separate piece. For Ossoff, it needs to be said that he ran a strong campaign tailored to the 6th’s particular electorate, against an opponent who was beatable, because she’d previously been beaten. His rhetoric didn’t always ring true; his promises were checks from an account sure to be found overdrawn when reconciled with the Democrats’ ledger in Washington. But he ran the only campaign a Democrat could run and have any hope of succeeding in a district that routinely went for Tom Price by 20 points. And it wasn’t enough.

(It also seems likely this newfound Democratic star will have trouble finding a new place in the party’s constellation. What’s a 30-year-old who spent $30 million running for Congress going to do next? Run for the state Senate? Pfft. They were talking about Ossoff as the next Obama! A statewide race, and a prominent one, would seem to be the only fitting option — but the embrace there, from the Stacey Abrams and Kasim Reeds and Jason Carters of the world, who are more paid up in their party dues, might get just a touch awkward. Ironically, Ossoff’s near-success in the closely watched 6th could make it harder, not easier, for him to find another political opening.)

***

Thirty million dollars, for a gain of one-point-three percentage points. What, were they supposed to spend sixty? Is that what they’ll tell the donors, those folks in California and New York and Massachusetts who sent Ossoff their gifts $10, $20, $50 at a time, thinking he was their Scott Brown, the vanguard of a counter-wave to the one that only recently swept them totally out of power? Will anyone believe it?

Maybe five months after a presidential inauguration is a little soon to expect such a sharp repudiation of the new president. But that’s not what they were selling. Kansas, Montana, South Carolina, Georgia: a superfecta of second places, which doesn’t pay a nickel, not in politics anyway (unless you’re a consultant).

Nor does it provide any momentum for Democrats going into next year’s midterm and statewide elections. Expect this tug-of-war: Ossoff came close because he played to the center; yeah, and just like Carter and Michelle Nunn in 2014 that wasn’t enough, it’s time to be more proudly progressive. It’s already begun. An Ossoff win would have vindicated the peel-off-moderate-Republicans approach. Now, expect more of the turn-out-the-real-Democrats-who-just-stayed-home tack. Only, Ossoff did drive turnout up, way up: Almost 58 percent of the 6th’s voters turned out Tuesday, improving on their amazing (for a special election) 44 percent in April. He surely hit his number, given that expectations were for something like 200,000 to 225,000 votes to be cast. Handel just hit a higher number, driving the total to almost 260,000.

Maybe there are more non-voting Democrats out there somewhere. But I’m not sure counting on them to show up next time is much of a strategy.

***

The Republicans at Handel’s election night watch party were in a festive mood. I would imagine the ones watching in Washington were equally joyful. They helped compile a lesser but still substantial sum, $20 million or more. The only thing more expensive than their victory was Democrats’ defeat, but when you win there’s always more where that came from. It also gives their legislative agenda a bit of a shot in the arm. Handel’s 4-point win shouldn’t do anything to lower expectations for votes on health reform or tax reform. We await details on just what those reforms might look like, but the show can go on, after Tuesday night.

Reader Comments 0

375 comments
SGTGrit
SGTGrit

A recent survey shows that 51% of immigrants are receiving some form of government financial assistance to 31% of the American born population.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Then Senate healthcare bill under consideration will defund Planned Parenthood for 1 year. What a terribly irresponsible, anti-taxpayer blow that would be.  Nothing like intentionally creating more welfare, Medicaid, food stamp and government assisted housing demand.


You can be a fiscal conservative or a social conservative but you cannot be both.  And anyone that says otherwise is lying sack.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge  I guess you believe as well that Planned Parenthood is primarily an abortion provider.

bu22
bu22

@breckenridge $734k to Ossoff, 2nd biggest contributor.  Why does Planned Parenthood need federal money when its spending so much paying off Democrats?

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

LibProg rants rebuked. 


We're bringing coal jobs back.  - yep

http://insider.foxnews.com/2017/03/16/kentucky-miners-going-back-work-coal-country-after-trump-takes-office


Immigrants are taking your jobs. - yep

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/06/21/hidden-federal-opt-program-helps-330000-foreign-graduates-get-us-jobs/


Regulations are job killers (... no specifics mind you) - I won't post a link here because anyone with any business sense knows the statement to be completely true. 


Raising the minimum wage is socialist. - yep, when you can hire people all day for $8 an hour being forced to pay more is socialist. 


Climate change is a hoax. - it's true the climate is changing.  It's not true the fix is to transfer our wealth out of the country for a goal that cannot be guaranteed.  Something like a tenth of a degree in a 100 years, or some similar BS. 


Christianity is under attack - yep, all you have to do is read at Bookman's. 


More guns - no, just not more restrictions.  


Pizzagate, emails, fast & furious, voter fraud, Benghazi, birthers, truthers, Sandy Hook deniers, Agenda 21 - the pizza joint shooting was a nut case, Hillary's emails are back under investigation, Benghazi was collusion between Obama and Hillary as to who did it for their personal political purposes, Sandy Hook deniers are idiots, dont' know about Agenda 21.


Fake news - your party leadership is now MSM and they repeatedly report fake news as they have become activists instead of journalists. 


Death tax - yep, should be removed.  Families have already paid taxes on their accumulated wealth.  Death taxes should be unconstitutional.  


Death panels - Obama gave a speech on letting grandma die because her life expectancy after surgery did not justify the expense. 


Drill baby drill.  - the boost in energy production during the Obama administration was mostly due to drilling on private land - Barry's administration would not issue or limited drilling permits - and fracking which the Barry crowd was also against.


So, once again Liberals are wrong.  Voters can see their lunacy. They continue to lose elections.

And will do so into the foreseeable future.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@JohnnyReb 

 Breitbart is not a legitimate news source. And anyone that cites Breitbart as a legitimate news source is a stupid loser.

Next.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge @JohnnyReb

What's the matter, punk?

Breitbart too truthful for you?

You prefer MSNBC?

Or maybe Slate or the Huff?

You're the one losing, not us.

Oh, and save us your line of being independent, no one here buys it.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

You wander over to Bookman's and read some of his followers comments and you know that the future of the Democrat party is indeed bleak. Unless the Democrats can find a way to rid themselves of the far-left they'll fall to extinction. It appears that the left has coined a new cutesy word "rurals". I guess it's kind of a us versus them thing. The "rurals" I guess are those who reside outside the urban centers in blue state country. They are the lesser human beings who voted for Donald Trump. The urbanites who reside in such heavy populated cities like NYC, L.A. or Chicago are the elites. Chicago of course is in a state that failed court orders three times now to pay into Medicaid. Maybe this new far-left identity politics fad is born out of their anger at the E.C. presidential voting system that deprived Queen Hillary the election.

DeepStateDawg
DeepStateDawg

@SGTGrit I think what you're saying is that Democrats should better pander to uneducated and under-employed people with false promises, scare tactics and misinformation? 


We're bringing coal jobs back. 


Immigrants are taking your jobs. 


Regulations are job killers (... no specifics mind you). 


Raising the minimum wage is socialist. 


Climate change is a hoax. 


Christianity is under attack. 


More guns.  


Pizzagate, emails, fast & furious, voter fraud, Benghazi, birthers, truthers, Sandy Hook deniers, Agenda 21 


Fake news. 


Death tax.  


Death panels. 


Drill baby drill. 



SGTGrit
SGTGrit

"I think what you're saying is that Democrats should better pander to uneducated and under-employed people with false promises, scare tactics and misinformation?"  Democrats do pander to many within that group. That's why we've experienced high unemployment, low workforce participation, an economy that struggled to stay above water and a growing population of welfare recipients. All during the Obama administration. That's why I said that Democrats must find a way to rid itself of the far-left. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@SGTGrit

What I love is a poster who disparages the Right as being uneducated yet has a handle with the word "dawg" in it.


bu22
bu22

@SGTGrit Its just amazing to me how so many Democrats look at all Republicans as lower human beings.  A lot of Democrats are in serious need of some exposure to diversity (of thought).  Many are still saying they need to go further left in spite of all evidence to the contrary.  http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/21/democrats-special-election-ossoff-handel-239827  

"So far this cycle, we've seen an underfunded, authentic candidate with a message lose and we've seen a well-funded candidate with D.C. talking points lose. Now it's time to focus on putting real resources behind candidates who can inspire progressives and give folks a clear vision for the future," said longtime Democratic strategist Rebecca Katz, referring respectively to Rob Quist in Montana and Ossoff. "Democrats have to stop focusing all our energy on winning over Romney voters and start figuring out how to bring more progressive independents into the fold."

Ossoff’s closing message in a district that routinely goes for GOP candidates by at least 20 points was largely about fiscal responsibility, rather than opposition to Trump or the offer of a broad economic plan. That kind of message is anathema to many liberal lawmakers and strategists.

“We need a bolder economic platform, our party needs to be for good jobs and better wages, [and] we have to have some bold economic ideas that are going to convince people that we get it,” said Rep. Ro Khanna of California. “There’s still a ways to go. The challenge is not simply a messaging issue or a branding issue, the challenge is a vision issue.”

Still more Wednesday dissatisfaction was focused on tactics.

Ossoff stopped attacking Trump after the national party’s focus groups in his district revealed that Democratic criticisms of the president didn’t sit well with the locals. But the lack of anti-Trump messaging rubbed many campaign professionals the wrong way, since his unpopularity is the reason seat was up for grabs in the first place.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@bu22 @SGTGrit

Sanders and Fauxahontas are trying to drag the Dims further Left.

That may result in splitting the party to a degree much more so than Libertarians not always agreeing with Repubs.

Any split on that side equals sure Repub wins.

They are in much bigger trouble than posters we see here, and certainly those that post at Bookman's realize or will admit.

Go Bernie.

reyisosoji
reyisosoji

my co-worker's step-aunt gets 94 per hour at home.. she's been laid off for seven months. the previous month her pay-check was 14299 just working on the internet a couple of hours a day, go to this page(っ◔◡◔)っ http://www.jobsheat.com


AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Our newest prediction: Congressional political neophytes who have absolutely no understanding of politics or protocols when it comes to dealing with the President, will soon learn their proper place in our government.


Fact.

Starik
Starik

@AndyManUSA#45 @Starik No, I'm not a member of either party. I voted for Reagan twice for example. I never voted for Slick Willie either.

tiday
tiday

my buddy's mother makes 84 an hour on the internet.. she's been fired from work for 2 months... last month her income was 18420 only working on the internet for a couple of hours each day. look at═►═►═►═►www.cash.jobs34.com


FIGMO2
FIGMO2

The presidency of Donald Trump has been weakened by opponents in the media, by leaks from the CIA, the FBI, the State Department and the Pentagon, as well as by his own intemperance.

It is also being undermined by political neophytes who have absolutely no understanding of politics or protocols when it comes to dealing with Congress. 

A fair statement by none other than Dennis Kucinich.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

@FIGMO2 Adding President Trump's "intemperance" into the equation is akin to putting the cart in front of the horse. Would the dude even tweet if democrats were supportive of his agenda? How about if they weren't hell bent on impeaching him? 


Dennis is an idiot.


Just sayin....

breckenridge
breckenridge

@AndyManUSA#45 @FIGMO2 

Since when have members of one party been supportive of the opposition party agenda?

You scored very low marks with that comment.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

@breckenridge @AndyManUSA#45 @FIGMO2 That is an astute observation but what in the hell does it have to do with anything? The democrats are nothing but islamofascists when it comes to the Trump agenda. What is he supposed to do, cower in fear?


Try thinking about it, for a moment.

breckenridge
breckenridge

 Orlando, Florida June 5 - The gunman in Monday’s fatal shooting spree at an Orlando, Florida, business targeted his victims and had a “negative relationship” with at least one of them, according to law enforcement.

Army veteran John Robert Neumann, Jr. killed five employees of Fiamma Inc. before killing himself, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said.

That was a bad one.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

@breckenridge Brokenridge, we can always count on you to provide us with the news that no one would ever even consider to be important. You, sir, are a lunatic in search of a mental illness.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Sandy, Utah June 7 — Social media posts from the gunman who killed a mother and her 6-year-old son and also shot two other children reveal that he made threats toward the woman for keeping their relationship a secret. 

That was a bad one. 

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Why So Many Critics Hate the New Obama Biography

David Garrow had the temerity to depict Obama as a real, complicated human being. Too bad the former president’s mythmakers can’t accept that.

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/06/19/david-garrow-barack-obama-biography-reaction-review-215280

Obama’s instinct for self-fashioning was evident early in his career. Garrow quotes a young Obama telling his ex-girlfriend, Alex McNear, in a letter that he was “one of the ‘promising young men’” at the financial data analysis firm where he worked after graduating Columbia University in 1983. “Without effort, I find I can perform with flawless grace,” he wrote to her, “patching up their insecurities, smoothing over ruffles among the co-workers.” But given his colleagues’ starkly different memories of him—“someone not interested in other people,” “really just kind of kept to himself,” “self-involved,” “somewhat withdrawn”—Garrow concludes that Obama’s self-rendering to Alex “beggared belief.” 

I knew he padded his resume, but......

eeewwwwww

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Obama? Didn't he used to be President? His only legacy being another $10 trillion in debt.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Lil_Barry_Bailout

I'm compelled to buy the book. I did a lot of research on Obama (the unknown) prior to his being elected.

He was a product of not only the media's hype, but his own as well. He bought into it, and unfortunately others did too.

Now he can add President of the United States to his resume, padded though it may be.

UGAdawg34
UGAdawg34

Breckenridge be dumb and out go to the Eric Zoolander School for Kids that Can't Read Good.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@UGAdawg34 

There have 26 mass shootings in America this month.  In 10 of those incidents, 2 or more people have died.  The shooting in Virginia last week was just another statistic, although not especially notable for carnage.

UGAdawg34
UGAdawg34

@breckenridge @UGAdawg34 There be 320 million Americans who were all fleeced by Obamacare and the subsequent bullhockey efforts at gun control. All that did is make cops get killed for know reesin. Peeple don't want to admit that almost all gun deaths caused by blax and much fewer by whites and almost none by yellow people. Look up those statistix if you so smart. 

UGAdawg34
UGAdawg34

@breckenridge @UGAdawg34 Philando Castille proven high on weed when he wuz stopped. Didn't listen to cop. Shot and kileed. Poor fella casued cops to get kilt for no reesin. 

breckenridge
breckenridge

@UGAdawg34 @breckenridge 

Actually I don't think it was weed, I seem to recall it was PCP or some such. Much worse than weed.

But that still doesn't have anything to do with Obamacare.

Habrams01
Habrams01

This means more because of the number of registered voters that turned out.  If Handel had won by the same margin, percent, but only 18% of the registered voters had turned out it wouldn't mean as much.  To see the Democrat Party waste its future assets in such an endeavor shows how out of touch they are with the populace.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

"Allahu Akbar" was the scream of another crazed Islamic piece of crap that people heard while this slime plunged a knife into the neck of a police officer in a small airport in Flint, Michigan. There is no logical reason for Muslims steeped in Sharia law and radicalism to be allowed into our country. Ethnic profiling, absolutely.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@SGTGrit 

29,060 people have been shot in America this year. 7,216 of those have died.  The perpetrators in 0 of those incidents were Muslim.

Next.

Mary
Mary

Got proof?

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge @SGTGrit  "Not this year, no." I guess you were only a gleam in your daddies eye when the 9-11 Islamic attack took out over 3,000 lives.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@SGTGrit @breckenridge 


Let me suggest you read my post once again. I said there have been no Muslim perpetrators this year.

Now, if  you want to go back and talk about the Saudis who knocked down the WTC towers, that a different topic altogether.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge @SGTGrit  Not at all a different topic. Radical Islamic terrorism is radical Islamic terrorism regardless of the country from which its perpetrators come from. Now we have Islamic terrorists right here in America. Many born and raised here.

bu22
bu22

@breckenridge @SGTGrit So you are saying Trump has done a fabulous job.  He's certainly done better than the Europeans.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@SGTGrit @breckenridge 

When Cheney rolled out the axis-of-evil after 9-11, he got 2 out of 3 right - North Korea and Iran.  But he screwed up by having Iraq in there instead of Saudi Arabia.  Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11, it was almost exclusively a production put on by Saudis.

breckenridge
breckenridge

“I believe the deep state, at it’s core, is satanic. It is Luciferian. They, that synagogue of Satan dark state, in 1917, overthrew the Russian government. The Russian people were trapped in communism, atheistic God-hating communism for 70 plus years; the Russians finally cast it off and came out from under this communist oppression. I believe the deep state is furious with them that they dared to overthrow their God-hating atheism, their Satanism. The people in control of America today are Satanists. What do they defend? Baby killing. Selling baby parts. Homosexuality. Pedophilia. They celebrate it.”  Rick Wiles, End Times preacher, 6-21-2017


LOL! What a stupid loser.  This country will be a slightly better place when that sack of dung is no longer with us.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@SGTGrit @breckenridge 


Back in 1918, Deep State executed Anastasia  Nikolaevna when she was just 17 years old.  Sure wish they'd find a way to do the same to bad haircut boy Kim Jong-un.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge @SGTGrit  You can be certain that such plans are on the table and most likely now under serious consideration. I don't think Kim sleeps very well these nights.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@SGTGrit @breckenridge 

He's a menace, an absolute menace.

North Korea's two leading exports:

1. Very good counterfeit US $100 bills. 

2. Meth