Voters are heading to the polls Tuesday to determine who will take over the U.S. House of Representatives seat in Georgia’s 6th district left vacant by Tom Price.
Price, a Republican, was tabbed by President Donald Trump to be the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, which left the seat vacant.
Now, a special election will try to fill that void. It’s a seat that hasn’t had a Democrat elected to it since 1965 (John J. Flynt, Jr.). After that, Republicans Newt Gingrich, Johnny Isakson and Price were elected to the seat.
But polling and other data suggests that has a chance to change this time around, and the race now has taken a national feel to it.
Georgia’s 6th congressional district covers many of Atlanta’s northern suburbs and also parts of northern Fulton County, eastern Cobb County and northern Dekalb County.
Check out the map below to see the constraints of the district:
Here’s what you need to know about the special election:
1. There Are 18 Candidates Vying for the Seat
It’s a quite the crowded field for a special election. There are 18 candidates in total in the race, with many previously holding jobs in the government, but others coming from different areas.
Here’s a look at the field for the election:
Richard Keatley — Former U.S. Navy officer
Jon Ossoff – Managing director and CEO of Insights TWI
Rebecca Quigg – Doctor
Ron Slotin — Former state senator
David Abroms — Certified public accountant
Mohammad Ali Bhuiyan — Small business owner
Keith Grawert — Air Force pilot
Bob Gray — Businessman
Karen Handel — Former Georgia Secretary of State
Judson Hill — State senator
Bruce LeVell — Head of Donald Trump’s national diversity coalition
William Llop — Certified public accountant
Dan Moody — Former state senator
Kurt Wilson — Businessman
Early voting for the race took place for a three-week period, and 54,817 in-person and absentee ballots were cast.
Michael McDonald of the United States Election Project had been tracking the race in the district and its early voting statistics. He released his final data on early voting April 14 which showed some interesting information.
When the early-voting period began, Democrats heavily outweighed the amount of Republicans voting. But that changed in the last few weeks, with Republicans out-voting Democrats by a 18,294 to 17,645 margin. But those who don’t identify with a political party led both of the parties.
In comparison with the November 2016 presidential election, 186,496 early ballots were submitted within the district.
2. A Candidate Needs 50 Percent of the Vote to Win
Because it’s a special election, the only way one candidate can win outright is by getting at least 50 percent of voter support.
If that fails to happen with Tuesday’s results, the election heads to a runoff election that would be scheduled for June 20. And with 18 candidates all vying for the seat, that seems like a good possibility.
Regardless, all candidates have continued to campaign at a high pace with just under four months to do so. In fact, candidates and outside groups have spent over $14 million on an advertising blitz for the race.
Ads from Republican groups have taken aim at Ossoff, labeling him a product of Nancy Pelosi.
Another ad, which was one of the first released in the election cycle, labeled Ossoff too young and inexperienced for office. The ad took video from his college days when he once dressed up as Star Wars’ Han Solo.
Other Republican candidates and groups have also taken shots at Handel, which label her a career politician. One ad from Gray compares her to John Kerry, saying that her political opinions change based on the landscape in the political world.
Another ad from Moody also calls Handel a career politician but goes one step further in labeling her a “loser” after she came out on the wrong end of statewide races in 2010 and 2014.
Samuel L. Jackson even released a radio ad supporting Ossoff, saying that voters must “summon furious anger” when heading to the polls or suffer the consequences, a quote taken from Jackson’s movie Pulp Fiction.
3. Ossoff & Handel Have Led In the Polls
Much of the reason there have been so many attack ads on Ossoff and Handel is because they have consistently led in the polls ever since the race started.
The most recent poll in the race showed that Ossoff had stranglehold on the rest of the field with 45.3 percent support.
The poll, released by WSB-Landmark Communications on April 14, surveyed 500 likely voters and had a 4.2 percent margin of error. It was conducted from April 12-13 and showed Handel second with 17.4 percent support. Three other Republicans were bunched together after Handel — Gray (8.6 percent), Moody (8.4 percent) and Hill (8 percent).
The first poll released in the race March 20 by zPolitics showed Ossoff leading the field with 41 percent of support while Handel came in at 16 percent and Gray was also near that amount.
Another poll released March 24 showed Ossoff leading the field with about 40 percent and Handel garnering about 20 percent of likely voter support. Hill, who has the endorsement of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (Florida) polled at 9.5 percent.
The poll, performed by research firm Opinion Savvy on behalf of Fox 5 Atlanta shows Ossoff receiving 39.8 percent support while Handel was in second at 19.9 percent. Gray was in third with 10.4 percent.
Here are the full results of that poll:
Abroms — 1.6 percent
Bhuiyan — 0.0 percent
Edwards — 0.6 percent
Grawert — 0.0 percent
Gray — 10.4 percent
Handel — 19.9 percent
Hernandez — 0.0 percent
Hill — 9.5 percent
Keatley — 0.0 percent
Kremer — 0.1 percent
LeVell — 0.4 percent
Llop — 0.3 percent
Moody — 8.0 percent
Ossoff — 39.8 percent
Pollard — 0.4 percent
Quigg — 0.2 percent
Slotin — 1.3 percent
Wilson — 1.8 percent
Undecided — 5.8 percent
The poll also was the first to offer initial perspective on a possible runoff. It found a large percentage of undecided voters and an extremely tight race between Ossoff and Handel, if those would be the two campaigning against each other.
Here’s a look at some of the early runoff election projections:
Ossoff vs. Handel In Runoff Election
Ossoff — 42.4 percent
Handel — 41 percent
Undecided — 16.6 percent
If the race were to feature Ossoff against Gray, it’s also a tight race.
Ossoff vs. Gray In Runoff Election
Ossoff — 44.3 percent
Gray — 42.3 percent
Undecided — 13.4 percent
If Ossoff were to face Hill in a runoff, the poll said that the Republican is ahead by a slim margin.
Ossoff vs. Hill In Runoff Election
Hill — 44.6 percent
Ossoff — 44.2 percent
Undecided — 11.2 percent
4. Money Has Poured Into the Race
An extra emphasis has been placed on the 6th district race because it’s one of the first elections since Trump was elected president in the November 2016 presidential election. It’s seen by many as a referendum on the Trump administration and its policies.
Because of that, money has poured in from both sides from outside groups and individual donors.
The Ossoff campaign reported a record amount of fundraising in the race. His $8.3 million in fundraising and $2.1 million on hand for the last few days of campaigning was the most ever in the district and the most since Democrat Randy Perkins put up $9 million of his own money in a 2016 congressional race in Florida.
Ossoff’s stockpile of funds came from all parts of the nation, including over $1 million that was raised by liberal website the Daily Kos.
Hill had the second-most amount of funds raised, reporting $473,000 with $113,000 on hand.
Handel was third in fundraising with $463,000 being raised as of the April 6 reporting date. She reported over $183,000 on hand heading into the last days of campaigning.
Moody has self-funded a lot of his campaign for about $2 million in ads, and the Club for Growth, which is backing Gray has spent $500,000 in ad money on the race.
Handel is the beneficiary of $700,000 in ad spending from Ending Spending, a super PAC founded by the Ricketts family.
5. President Trump Has Been Active In Supporting Republicans In the Election
With the congressional race heating up in the last few weeks, it isn’t just outside groups that are trying to sway voters. Sensing the importance of the election, Trump issued a robocall Monday that urged voters in the district to vote against Ossoff.
“(Ossoff) will raise your taxes, destroy your healthcare, and flood our country with illegal immigrants,” Trump said in the recorded message. “Liberal Democrats from outside Georgia are spending millions and millions of dollars trying to take your Republican congressional seat away from you. Don’t let them do it.”
Trump followed up the call by sending out a tweet one day before the election. In the tweet, he called a runoff a “win” for Republicans.
Trump urging voters to vote in the election against Ossoff once again reiterates the need and desire for Republicans to retain the seat.
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