Democrat Jon Ossoff — buoyed by a record $24 million in fundraising — has notched his best poll result of Georgia’s special House election with less than two weeks to go in the contest, with an Atlanta Journal Constitution survey released Friday, showing Ossoff with a 7-point lead over Republican Karen Handel.
The survey found Ossoff with 51 percent of the vote to Handel’s 44 percent.
It is the second time that a public poll has shown Ossoff with a 7-point lead over Handel, who are competing to replace HHS Secretary Tom Price in a June 20 special election for his old district in the Atlanta suburbs. The polling average shows Ossoff ahead by 2 or 3 points.
“The common denominator is that Ossoff is floating right around 50 percent. So then where’s Karen Handel, is the obvious question,” said Mark Roundtree, a Republican consultant whose own firm released a poll Thursday that showed Ossoff with a slight lead over Handel, 50 percent to 47 percent. “Obviously, it’s competitive, but there aren’t any public polls that have shown Handel winning.”
Nervous Democrats are not planning a victory party yet. Roundtree noted that records showing who has cast early votes in the special election so far include more voters with a GOP primary voting history, as opposed to voters with a history of voting in Democratic primaries. (Voters do not register by party in Georgia; past primary participation is the closest proxy in Georgia’s voter registration data.)
But several Atlanta-area consultants also said that President Donald Trump’s low favorability in the district “inevitably hurts Handel and any other Republican running in a district like this one — suburban, well-educated, affluent,” said Chip Lake, another Republican consultant in the state.
Trump’s approval rating has not shifted dramatically since the April 18 primary, when Ossoff topped 48 percent of the vote, but the president’s ratings have ticked down slightly since then. Trump’s average approval rating dropped 3 points, from 43 percent to 40 percent, since April 18, according to the polling average compiled by HuffPost.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution has not released full results from its new survey, which was conducted by Abt Associates. But it did break down the results by party, which help explain why Ossoff has gained traction in a traditionally Republican district: Energized Democrats are almost completely united behind him, while he is picking off a small but significant share of Republicans and winning independents.
Ossoff is attracting support from 13 percent of Republicans, while Handel is getting 3 percent of Democrats, according to the poll. The survey also has Ossoff getting 50 percent of independents.
That dynamic mirrors how each campaign is approaching the final stretch, Roundtree added.
“Karen Handel’s campaign is intensely focused on get-out-the-vote efforts of their own base, the people who they know vote Republican, and not on persuading new people to join them,” Roundtree said. “While Ossoff is trying to win additional people, which he has to do in a district like this because Republicans, at the end of the day, have a partisan advantage over Democrats.”
Read more here from The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Abt Associates interviewed 1,000 registered voters from June 5-8 for the survey.
This article was published on Politico.com