With a few votes left to be tabulated, CNN is calling the Georgia 6th for Republican Karen Handel.
CNN projects Republican Karen Handel wins the special Congressional election in the Georgia 6th, beating Democrat Jon Ossoff.— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) June 21, 2017
After lagging behind in early returns, Democrat Jon Ossoff’s only hope was an unprecedented surge in mail-in ballots. That did not happen.
Our estimate for DeKalb mail at the beginning of the night was Ossoff at 71. He only came in a little bit above. Not going to cut it.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) June 21, 2017
Democrats did not get the congressional win they had hoped for in this race to fill Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's House seat. But could they claim a moral victory? Depends who you ask.
Worth remembering that the two seats tonight that are both running close were won by GOP candidates 7 months ago by 23.4 and 20.5 points.— Philip Bump (@pbump) June 21, 2017
People trotting out "It was an R +21 district!" ignore that Price's '16 opponent literally spent 0 dollars (am using literally correctly)— Shane Ryan 🌹 (@ShaneRyanHere) June 21, 2017
Republicans first won the Georgia 6th in 1979, and the seat has been kept warm by staunch conservatives ever since. In that regard, Ossoff’s performance is encouraging.
On the other hand, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by one measly percentage point there last November. Despite the president’s general unpopularity, this wasn’t the loud rebuke of Trump many Democrats were hoping for. It was, if anything, another little burp of mild displeasure.
Though commentators Tuesday night and Wednesday will surely look for broader takeaways, in many ways, this race was an anomaly. It was by far the most expensive congressional race in history, with roughly $55 million spent on and by the candidates. It was silly to spend that much money on one congressional seat, and let’s hope people chill out from now on.
The race also earned heavy national interest and participation (both financial and otherwise), giving it the feel of a proxy war. But the district is not exactly representative of national dynamics. It is suburban, highly educated, and firmly conservative. Ossoff played to those factors. His political leanings are heavily to the center of center, and his campaign’s focus was on small government and economic growth—not on Trump. This looked like it was working, until it didn't.
There was another special election tonight. It was in South Carolina’s 5th, a rural, conservative district. There, Republican Ralph Norman beat Democrat Archie Parnell by a surprisingly narrow margin. In what has been a flurry of special election losses for Democrats, that’s the one that may come out looking the best. For whatever that’s worth.