GA-6 Special Election Preview

Thanks again to Jon Henrik Gilhuus for his help with the pictures!

Tomorrow the first round of the year’s most-watched House Special election will take place. At stake is GA-6, an R+2 (2016) seat in the northern Atlanta suburbs. The seat covers the wealthy eastern quarter of Cobb County east of I-75, wealthy suburbs of Fulton County north of the Perimeter (which also have some isolated lower-middle-class minority pockets) and the northern quarter of DeKalb County, which is a mixture of upper-middle-class suburbs bisected by a corridor of poor, heavily Hispanic slumburbs along I-85. This was once Newt’s seat and the most Republican in Georgia (a prior version of this seat was a GOP vote sink as recently as the 90s) but it trended hard-left last year, and that has led Democrats to go all-in on this race in looking for a way to defeat Trump. Polls close at 7p ET and we will be liveblogging. If you haven’t seen our poll of the race from last week, now is the time to check it out. Five Democrats and eleven Republicans are running.

Jon Ossoff

The clear front-runner in the first round is former congressional staffer Jon Ossoff (D). Ossoff has coalesced national liberal support and raised a ridiculous amount for this race from national liberal donors. He is running a stridently anti-Trump campaign and seeking to cast himself as the vanguard of the bold progressive “Resistance.” However, his incredibly thin resume, which consists of a low-level staffing job with five months of security clearance and running a small video production company, and his stridently anti-Trump liberal campaign limit his ability to take crossover support. While he received essentially unanimous Dem support in the poll, his crossover support was non-existent. As a result, he is certain to finish in first, but according to our and other recent polls, he is likely to finish well below 50%, probably somewhere around the 40% mark. Ex-State Sen. Ron Slotin (D) is the other Democrat of note in the race. Slotin served two terms in the State Senate in the early 90s before launching an unsuccessful primary run for GA-4 in 1996. Slotin was initially considered a credible candidate for this race before he got eclipsed by the Ossoff hypestorm, but he may still draw a couple points from more moderate Dems turned off by Ossoff’s thin resume. Three Democratic Some Dudes are also in the race and may draw a point or two between them.

Karen Handel

On the GOP side, the field is far more crowded with four candidates all having a chance to come in second. That said, ex-SoS Karen Handel (R) looks like the most likely to advance. Handel is well-known from a long political career, including as Fulton County Exec, a term as SoS in the 2000s, and runs for Governor in 2010 and Senate in 2014. Handel is a fairly typical suburban conservative – fiscally conservative and socially a mainstream conservative. Owing to her strong name recognition and base in Fulton County (nearly half the district), she has taken a narrow lead for second in our poll and was a more comfortable second in some other recent polling. She has also received some establishment support, including an endorsement and ad from ex-Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R).

Bob Gray

Handel looks likely to finish in the high teens and have the best chance to advance, but there are three other candidates tightly bunched right behind her in the low teens. Johns Creek councilman Bob Gray (R) has turned into a surprisingly strong contender, thanks to significant self-funding and a campaign as the most unapologetic Trumpist in the field. Strangely for someone embracing Trump so tightly, Gray has also been backed by the fiscally conservative Club for Growth.

Dan Moody

Ex-State Sen. Dan Moody (R) has by far the most cash of the field thanks to $2M in self-funding. He has been running as a fairly typical Chamber-of-Commerce conservative and has the support of Sen. David Perdue (R), who Moody helped recruit campaign workers for in 2014. Moody also helped recruit people for the successful campaigns of former Governor Sonny Perdue (cousin of the Senator), and several of the Perdues’ campaign people have returned the favor to work for Moody this spring.

Judson Hill

State Sen. Judson Hill (R) is also a Chamber-of-Commerce conservative and has the support of Newt, as well as a strong base in the wealthy, heavily Republican, and high-turnout Cobb County portion of the district. All of Gray, Moody, and Hill were tightly behind Handel in our poll, and each could have a chance to upset her for second.

The other seven GOP candidates look to have no chance to advance, but will probably draw 5-10% between them. Businessman David Abroms (R) is running as a moderate and has support from Egg McMuffin Evan McMullin, which will likely get him around three points; he seems unlikely to garner much more than that. Businessman Kurt Wilson (R) hasn’t received a lot of buzz, but has fundraised six figures and has some support in local grassroots conservative circles that may get him a point or two. Conversely, Trump campaign operative Bruce Levell (R) has received some national buzz for his ties to the Trump camp, but got zero support in our poll and looks likely to finish at asterisk level. Three other candidates, GOP operative Amy Kremer (R), accountant William Llop (R), and veteran Keith Grawert (R), are running semi-serious campaigns and may draw a percent or two between them. There is also a final Some Dude in the race on the GOP side who has been running on a message of open anti-Semitism and whose name doesn’t deserve to be mentioned.

Special Elections: There are also two special elections tomorrow, and the more interesting one overlaps with the western part of GA-6. GA-SD-32 is an R+20 (2012), but likely much more D-friendly by 2016 numbers, seat in eastern Cobb County and parts of Sandy Springs, embedded within GA-6 and vacated by congressional candidate Judson Hill (R). Five Republicans and three Democrats are seeking this seat and it is chaotic enough that any two can advance. Physician Kay Kirkpatrick (R) looks like the slight front-runner; a major GOP donor, Kirkpatrick has been well-funded. There has been a slight brouhaha over Kirkpatrick using her maiden name on the ballot instead of her married name, with rivals saying that the move was to hide past Dem donations under her married appellation. Fellow physician Roy Daniels (R) is running an antiestablishment campaign and has Erickson’s endorsement. Attorney Gus Markis (R) has Gov. Deal’s endorsement, while railroad conductor Matt Campbell (R) has the support of a prominent legislator from an adjacent district. Consultant Hamilton Beck (R) looks like the longest-shot among the GOP candidates. Three Democrats are running; attorney Christine Triebsch (D) looks like the slight front-runner, but physician Bob Wiskind (D) and Weather Channel producer Exton Howard (D) are also running serious campaigns. Any two could advance, and an R-on-R or even a D-on-D runoff are possible. The other election is far less interesting. AL-LD-67 is a black-majority ~D+23 (2008) district around Selma. Attorney Prince Chestnut (D) is the prohibitive favorite over a Some Dude Indie.

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43 Comments

  • GOPTarHeel April 17, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Just struck me that Ossoff looks like a skinnier Paul Ryan. Like the “before” photo in a P90X commercial or something.

    No I have nothing substantive to contribute-excellent summary!

    My guesses: Ossoff 43 Handel 19 Gray 16 Hill 8 Moody 8 Assorted Republicans 4 Assorted Dems 2.


    R/NC-4. Needed a May, got a Trump.

    • GerGOP April 18, 2017 at 4:40 am

      I’m normally in synch with you, but I have to vehemently disagree with you on that one. Ryan’s hair, eybrows and nose look nothing like the Ossi dude.

      • pstchrisp April 18, 2017 at 9:02 am

        For some reason I kept thinking the lead singer for Train, Pat Monahan. But when I actually compare photos of the two, not as much.

        • BostonPatriot April 18, 2017 at 6:53 pm

          My first thought was Adam Levine but that’s not a great comparison either.

  • rdelbov April 17, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Judson Hill with his Cobb county base could sneak in but my bet is Handel finishes second. Looking for a high turnout +120K

    • dforston April 17, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      The KS-04 race got 120K overall. Given the national attention to this Georgia race, I wouldn’t be surprised if the total topped 150k. That’s about half of 2016 turnout.

      • krazen1211 April 17, 2017 at 5:08 pm

        This district should also have more population growth than KS-04 since the 2010 census.

        I am going to go with 170k.

        • rdelbov April 17, 2017 at 5:12 pm

          Of course the runoff IMO is likely to top the intial race.

          We could see 150K -that would not be a shock to me.

  • shamlet April 17, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    As a side note, I’m kinda amazed that the SD-32 race isn’t getting more press – guess it’s getting buried by the congressional race. But I think a D-on-D general is unfortunately a pretty strong possibility. The 3 Dems all seem relatively equal and all Republicans seem serious and have bases. If we assume this is somewhere around a 60/40 district now (about what the Cobb portion of GA-6 was last year), that’s 13.3% for each Dem and 12% for each Republican. Not a huge chance but I’d think it’s probably more likely than Ossoff clearing 50% today. Had Democrats gotten one of the three to drop they might have been on their way to an easy pickup.


    R, MD-7. Process is more important than outcome.

    • pstchrisp April 17, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      It’s just that a 12-12-12-12-12 tie or close to that would be almost unheard of, and all it would take is one candidate get a few more percent to get into the Top 2.

      • shamlet April 17, 2017 at 4:56 pm

        But if one of the Democrats falters, a 16 (D) – 15 (D) – 14 (R) – 13 (R) – 12 (R) – 11 (R) – 10 (R) – 9 (D) margin isn’t all that inconceivable. You’d need things to split just the right way but the odds of none of these candidates getting above around 15% should not be dismissed. They’re fairly evenly matched.


        R, MD-7. Process is more important than outcome.

        • pstchrisp April 17, 2017 at 8:35 pm

          BTW when you said “Ossoff clearing 50% today” I thought I passed out and it was Tuesday already…
          And I do kind of think 14-13-12-11-10 would be pretty remarkable, someone usually emerges in these small races, but we shall see.

  • VastBlightKingConspiracy April 17, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/handicapping-the-georgia-6-special-election/

    Nate Silver is very bullish on Ossoff, but that’s also because he expects the undecideds to split in a way that’s largely representative of the rest of the voters. This is true in most political races, but probably not in this race. In a race with one major Democrat and 4 Republicans, I suspect the undecideds will tilt significantly Republican.


    I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Republican.

  • Izengabe April 17, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    @Shamlet I am very disappointed in you. I would have assumed that we would have used the picture of Jon Ossoff dressed as Hans Solo. The picture you put us is totally unacceptable!


    Follow me on Twitter: @Izengabe_

    • Jon Henrik Gilhuus April 17, 2017 at 4:32 pm

      I take full responsibility, this was my fault, not Shamlet’s. I shall dress in sackcloth and ashes and shout “unclean, unclean” wherever I go for the next two weeks!


      The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.
      - P.J. O'Rourke

  • bluewahoo April 17, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Least we forget the Prince William County, Virginia Clerk of the Court special election. Sitting Del. Jackson Miller (R) is facing 2015 Democratic nominee Jacqueline Smith.

    Despite being incorporated separately, Manassas and Manassas Park voters are included in this election as well.

    • Son_of_the_South April 17, 2017 at 9:44 pm

      I’ve actually been helping out with this race for the past week or so.


      23, R, DC-AL
      Classical liberals are a minority. Fusionism is the answer.

  • dforston April 17, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    GA Early vote breakdown 2017
    Cobb 13,776………..25.03%
    Dekalb 11,387………20.69%
    Fulton 29,885………54.29%
    Total 55,048………100.00%

    GA Early vote breakdown 2016
    Cobb 97,245 31.24%
    DeKalb 67,417 21.65%
    Fulton 146,666 47.11%
    Total 311,328 100%

    • shamlet April 17, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      Fulton is way above its weight while DeKalb and (very surprisingly) Cobb are below. That’s good news for Handel, bad news for Hill and possibly Ossoff, and indeterminate news for Gray and Moody.


      R, MD-7. Process is more important than outcome.

    • dforston April 17, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      The 2016 numbers are actually total, not early, vote numbers.

      • rdelbov April 17, 2017 at 5:45 pm

        Very astute question DF.

        Election day numbers in 2016 for GA6 were 35.89%Fulton-41.81% Cobb-22.29% KeKalb

        No matter how you slice the early vote seems weak in DeKalb county but historically Cobb has come on strong in election day voting

    • segmentation_fault April 17, 2017 at 5:34 pm

      Early voting availability was much lower in Cobb and DeKalb.

      • rdelbov April 17, 2017 at 5:50 pm

        2016 election day votes. Fulton 30638 Price-15926 D foe–Cobb 37966 Price 16285 D foe–DeKalb 16442 Price 12476 D foe. So Cobb county turned on election day 2016(big vote for Trump and Price) while DeKalb better on election day (% wise) while Fulton gets a big early vote numbers.

        One would think that if Ds are doing great their best county would be way up in early votes?

        • segmentation_fault April 17, 2017 at 5:53 pm

          There’s only one early voting precinct in DeKalb but it’s in Dunwoody way on the northern edge of the county, and from the southern edge of the district which is most heavily Democratic that’s probably a 20-30 minute drive.

          In Cobb they have two early voting precincts but again, one is on the edge of the district, and another is not even in the district.

          Fulton has four early voting precincts, well distributed.

          • rdelbov April 17, 2017 at 6:59 pm

            Of course if you are motivated you get out and vote right?

            In early 2016–43211 Cobb 22.01%–DeKalb 43287 or 22.01%—Fulton 109774 55.92%

            So DeKalb is lower then in 2016–Fulton is quite a bit higher while Cobb is over early vote numbers 2016. DeKalb is the best overall D county while Cobb is the best overall R county.

            I could draw some conclusions but I guess we will see tomorrow.

  • segmentation_fault April 17, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    I think Ossoff will do better than people are expecting, but not reach 50%.

    He’s running as good campaign as possible for a candidate like him, raising lots of money, but it would have been better if Democrats had a candidate with a better resume and more experience. Like Scott Holcomb or Michelle Nunn. (I think if Holcomb had known how much money Democrats would raise for this race, he would not have passed.)

    In a way, it seems like a missed opportunity.

  • Left Coast Libertarian April 17, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    I had no idea other Democrats were in the race. That’s not on any of the polls. Even some dudes can get 0.5% of the vote. If there are four other Democrats they could easily get over 2% and deny Ossoff.

  • dforston April 17, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    Total ballots cast as of today is 56,459 – there were some ballots collected today

  • Tekzilla April 17, 2017 at 10:02 pm

    I’m thinking we see some big league turnout tomorrow. Right now I’d expect Ossoff to finish at 46%, the other Democrats combining for 3% or so and Handel coming in 2nd with 18% or so.


    36/M/NY-01 (D)

  • indocon April 17, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    Osoff gets 43%, that’s my # and I am sticking with it.

  • GerGOP April 18, 2017 at 4:38 am

    When are polls closing?

    • Upstater22 April 18, 2017 at 5:55 am

      7PM Eastern Daylight Time


      R, NY-22

  • Jon Henrik Gilhuus April 18, 2017 at 10:05 am

    On a different note, what do people think about using pictures in the posts? Is it a good idea or a horrible one? It would be nice to know if it’s something we should continue with or not.


    The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.
    - P.J. O'Rourke

    • GerGOP April 18, 2017 at 10:42 am

      Love it! I think it adds a very nice flavor

    • GOPTarHeel April 18, 2017 at 10:42 am

      I like it, fwiw.


      R/NC-4. Needed a May, got a Trump.

    • MikeMak27 April 18, 2017 at 11:22 am

      I like it Jon, thank you!


      IL-7 #PresidentPence

    • Conservative First April 18, 2017 at 11:24 am

      Personally, I’d do without them.

  • Republican Michigander April 18, 2017 at 11:56 am

    Ronna Romney McDaniel’s comment – “Honest Question – If Jon Ossoff can’t vote for himself, why should anybody else?”


    MI-08 - Michigan is a red state again. We need a 50 state strategy and an 83 county strategy.

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