GA 6th...Today's record setting special election (and the other election in South Carolina):
Bottom Line: Anytime we're attempting to identify what's likely to happen in any given election, the best place to start is with historical information. There's a reason for the saying that "those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it". It happens to be highly instructive because to use another phrase, "the more things change the more they stay the same". In this particular case history isn't very helpful because there isn't much and what's there isn't applicable.
There have only been three special elections in Georgia 6th history:
- The last special election in the Georgia 6th occurred in 1999 when Republican Johnny Isakson, now, a US Senator, won the race (after Newt Gingrich resigned from the seat)
- The prior special election occurred in 1932, when Democrat Carlton Mobley won and
- In 1870 when Democrat William Price won.
Perhaps ironically, the special elections in 1870 and 1932 actually have more in common with today's election, than the most recent special election (we had Republican Presidents & GOP control of Congress at the time of both special elections). But those two were before the accredited polling age and in the pre-civil rights era south (a Republican didn't hold the seat at anytime until 1979 when Newt Gingrich first won it).
So what can we infer might happen tomorrow? That's pretty challenging. Right now the current average accredited polling taken since early voting began suggests the following:
- Democrat Jon Ossoff: 48.8%
- Republican Karen Handel: 49%
That's a shift from yesterday into Karen Handel's favor after the two most recent polls showed a tie and a 2 point lead for Handel. As I mentioned above, the historical context isn't helpful for this special election but how undecided voters break on Election Day is. In Georgia's 6th, around 60% of undecided voters have historically broken towards the Republican. There aren't many undecided voters left but those who are lean right in this district. Therefore it appears as though Karen Handel is positioned to potentially pull out a win today. Ironically it could end up being by about the margin of President Trump's win in this district last fall (1.5%).
Part of what matters in polling at this stage is that many people aren't just telling people what their intent is...it's how they actually voted.
- A record amount of money has been spent in this race - Near $50 million (highest ever for a US House race)
- Record early voting for a non-Presidential race in GA's 6th (140k+)
As for the "other" race today. South Carolina's 5th district has a runoff election today as well. The Georgia 6th race is to replace President Trump's HHS director Tom Price. The South Carolina special election is to replace OMB director Mick Mulvaney. This race hasn't received the money or attention of the Georgia 6th do to the demographics of the district. Republican Ralph Norman is anticipated to pull out a double digit win in this race.