Hello, Obsidian Wingers! This is chmatl. LJ very graciously asked if I’d like to write a post on the upcoming special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District to replace Tom Price. I thought I’d fill you all in on the situation on the ground moving toward the election.
A little background – the 6th Congressional district comprises parts of Cobb, Fulton, and Dekalb counties. These are suburban Atlanta counties and mostly middle to upper middle class, especially Cobb and Fulton. GA-06 is considered a Red district, and has been represented by Tom Price since 2005. Tom Price won his re-election bid by 24%. Interestingly, however, Donald Trump won the district by only 1.5% points due to a large number of Republican crossover votes for Clinton in the presidential race. Trump’s slim margin of victory has made Democrats here somewhat optimistic that they can capture Price’s seat. The hope is to turn the race into a referendum on the Trump presidency, and it is considered by many Democrats around the country to be a test case for the #Resist movement.
There are 18 candidates running. Among these are 11 Republicans, including the now-infamous Karen Handel (the Susan G. Komen Foundation head who tried to revoke the foundation’s financial support for Planned Parenthood and essentially got fired), and Judson Hill, who is looking for a promotion from state Senator to U.S. Congressman; and five Democrats, among them Jon Ossoff, whose profile has risen considerably since he entered the race, and who is the leading Democratic candidate. There are also two Independents running, but their polling totals are negligible. They will likely have no effect on the outcome of the election. Hill has the endorsements of Newt Gingrich and Marco Rubio, while Ossoff has been endorsed by John Lewis, whom you know, and Hank Johnson, who represents Georgia’s 4th Congressional District (basically the parts of Atlanta that Lewis doesn’t represent).
The special election is non-partisan, which means there will be no Primary race, so all the candidates are running head-to-head. The threshold for winning without a run-off is 50% + 1. Common sense would tell you there’s a strong likelihood that no candidate in such a crowded field will cross that line.
Here’s a snapshot of the most recent polling:
March 2 – 3 (Trafalgar Group):
Ossoff (D) – 18.3%
Handel (R) – 17.98%
Bob Gray (R) – 13.42%
Judson Hill (R) – 7.98%
Also rans, with 2% or less.
February 17 – 18 (Clout Research):
Ossoff – 31.7%
Handel (R) – 24.9%
Gray (R) – 10.6%
Hill (R) – 9.2%
Also rans, again, with 2% or less.
The margins of error are +/-4.5% for the Trafalgar poll and +/-3.7% for Clout Research. Sample sizes are 450 and 694 respectively.
So that’s the current state of the race. You don’t need me to draw your inferences from this data. But I will say I’m thrilled that Judson Hill seems to have very little chance of making it through to the run-off. Anyone who gets an endorsement from Newt Gingrich is an SOB – if you need proof of that, just remember that Gingrich was on Team Trump during the presidential campaign.
A few observations about Democratic efforts to turn this red district blue:
First, Indivisible Georgia is heavily involved in public awareness and efforts to get out the vote. I got drawn in to canvassing because of a young woman who is my neighbor. She took the initiative to join Indivisible GA – 6th District and attend a training class on canvassing. Then she got out to actually do the work. She and I are part of a large army of regular folks who are involved in Indivisible Georgia’s work to give a liberal Democrat the best possible chance to win this upcoming election.
Second, Indivisible Georgia has done an outstanding job as a top-down organization. They do the initial training, generate the lists of “Leans Democrat/Strong Democrat” voters, which we use for canvassing/phone-banking, do follow-up training as needed, and direct a couple hundred volunteers’ efforts. They host candidate forums, provide publicity for direct action events (mostly through Facebook, Meetup and Slack) and town hall meetings, and are the face of the #Resist movement here in Georgia.
Third, and this is my personal story, I have been energized by being involved in the effort not just to elect a Democrat for Price’s old seat, but to build a real, sustainable, grassroots movement to turn GA-06 Blue. The Democratic Party in Cobb County (where I live) and more broadly the 6th district have been completely ineffectual for the entire time I’ve lived here (since 1992). New leadership and the disaster that is the Trump presidency have definitely changed that.
Immediately after the election I felt anger and hopelessness. Those intense feelings have abated, but I really needed a way to deal with my continuing frustration and fear that I could do nothing to change things. Working toward a worthwhile goal has been the perfect vehicle for getting me out of the funk I was in. The people I’ve met canvassing for the most part have been thrilled, just as I was, to have an actual DEMOCRAT show up at their door. Politics in this area have been so thoroughly dominated by conservative Republicans that it’s easy to feel like you’re alone if you’re a liberal Democrat.
I know many of you are involved in activism already. And I also know that many of you live in safely blue areas. But if you, like me, live in a place where your views – about politics generally and Trump in particular – are outside the mainstream, hook up with your local Indivisible group and hit the streets to make a difference. There’s a job for everybody, and I promise you’ll feel better working for change.