The poll, performed by SurveyUSA on behalf of 11Alive NBC, has Ossoff and Handel in a dead heat with 47 percentage points apiece in the race to replace former Rep. Tom Price in the U.S. House of Representatives. Six percent of respondents said they are undecided.
Price was confirmed as the secretary of the Department of Health of Human Services, leaving the House seat vacant.
SurveyUSA polled 700 registered voters — 503 who said they already cast ballots — from June 7-11, and the findings had a 4.5 percent margin of error.
The poll comes just one week before the June 20 runoff election. Ossoff scored big in the poll with young voters, outpacing Handel by a 3-2 margin with voters 50-years old and younger.
Emory political scientist Andra Gillespie told 11Alive that the race will undoubtedly shift on Election Day turnout.
“The findings underscore the fact that this race really comes down to turnout,” Gillespie said to the news outlet. “Both campaigns need to get as many volunteers on the phones and out in neighborhoods reminding voters to turn out on Tuesday. The campaign that has the best organized get-out-the-vote operation will be the one who likely wins this race.”
Ossoff held a 19 percentage point lead on Handel with voters in the district that said they already voted ahead of June 20. Handel led the group of voters who said they had a ballot and intended to vote in the early voting period by 14 points.
Also in the poll, 47 percent of respondents said that they held an “unfavorable” opinion of President Donald Trump. Thirty-four percent of respondents said they had a “favorable” view while 14 percent said they remained “neutral.”
The opinions on Trump could coincide directly with the congressional runoff election, as it’s long been thought to be a referendum on the president and his administration’s policies.
To see the full results of the poll, click here.
The results of the newest SurveyUSA poll are quite a change from one that was released three weeks ago by the same pollster. That poll, and another that was released June 9 by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, showed Ossoff ahead of Handel by 7 percentage points.
According to FiveThirtyEight, SurveyUSA has had “essentially zero partisan bias” in past polls.
The 6th district, which includes much of Atlanta’s northern suburbs, hasn’t selected a Democrat to represent it since John J. Flynt Jr. was elected in 1965 and served until 1979. He was succeeded by Republican Newt Gingrich, and it’s been in GOP hands ever since then.
But past polling has indicated that Ossoff may have a real shot to flip the district’s House seat blue. The first-time politician increased his monthly average in polls from 0.5 percent in April to 3.3 percent in June.
PredictIt.com says that Ossoff has a 63 percent chance to win the runoff.
Early Voting Surpasses Historical Margins
The SurveyUSA poll found that a majority voters in the district had already cast their ballots in the race during the early voting period, and data provided by Georgia’s Secretary of State has confirmed that.
The deadline for people to cast early votes in the district is June 16, and over 100,000 people had already done so.
In fact, as of June 12, a remarkable 102,790 votes had been cast in the race with four more days remaining.
Michael McDonald from the United States Elections Project has been charting the data, and it’s showed that those who identify as GOP voters in the district have outpaced Democrats. Additionally, a majority of those who have voted already are 50 or older, a group Handel has historically polled well with.
The amount of people who cast votes in the district during the 2016 general was 186,496, so it seems likely that the tally will fall short of that mark. But the fact so many people have already gotten to the polls in a special election for a House seat is quite unprecedented, McDonald said.
Surpassing 100,000 early votes is an incredible feat in itself, and is significantly ahead of the amount of people who cast ballots early for the April 18 special election. About 55,000 people did so then, and Ossoff won the first round of voting handily.
Ossoff tallied 48.1 percent of votes in the April 18 election while Handel was second with 19.78 percent. But because no candidate got 50 percent of the vote, the top-two vote getters — Ossoff and Handel — headed to the much-anticipated runoff.
Fundraising Also Achieves Historical Marks
Cash is still flowing into the congressional runoff, signifying just how important the race is.
On June 12, almost $1 million more was contributed into the race, a majority coming from the GOP side, Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti wrote.
That puts the total amount of ad spending in the district at an eye-popping $40 million, according to numbers compiled by Advertising Analytics.
On June 8, the Ossoff campaign reported an incredible congressional fundraising haul of over $15 million raised in the past two months. That easily breaks the record for the quarter reporting he set earlier this year when his campaign said it had collected over $8.3 million for the congressional race.
That’s a total of $23.6 million raised since his campaign started, an extraordinary number. Though it’s not clear how much of the funds had come from within the district and how much came from outside groups.
The Handel campaign had yet to report its fundraising figures, though national GOP figures such as Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan attended campaign fundraisers in recent weeks.