Republican Karen Handel won the Georgia 6th district runoff

The runoff for the Georgia US House of Representatives 6th district was a nationally watched race. As with a few other races since President Trump was elected, this was painted as a referendum on him as much (or perhaps more) as it was about local issues.

As it turned out, Republican Karen Handel won with a 4% margin over the (well-financed) Democrat John Ossoff. Here are my thoughts.

Mentioned links:

Karen Handel wins; latest Georgia 6th District runoff results

Scientists find evidence of global warming on Mars

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Show transcript

The runoff for the Georgia US House of Representatives 6th district was a nationally watched race. As with a few other races since President Trump was elected, this was painted as a referendum on him as much (or perhaps more) as it was about local issues.

Tom Price, who used to hold this seat, is now the head of Trump’s Health and Human Services department. I’m sure one of the considerations for choosing him was that this was a safe seat, having been Republican since 1979 when Newt Gingrich was first elected. Price, who was first elected to that seat in 2004, was routinely re-elected with a margin of at least 20 percentage points.

But following Price’s appointment to Trump’s cabinet, the Democrats sought to make this their (latest) attempt to show that the American public, having seen Trump in action and the political troubles he was having, were filled with buyer’s remorse and were ready to bring them back. Democrat John Ossoff got 49% of the vote in the general election, among a total of 18 candidates. Karen Handel and he were the top 2 vote getters, and thus, in Georgia, a runoff was required, which just happened on Tuesday, June 20th.

It seemed like years between the general election and the runoff, mostly because of the interminable ads that ran constantly on TV and radio. Wow. Hopefully, one day, we can target ads just to the district in question, but if you lived in metro Atlanta, you had no excuse not to know that, yes, there was a special election coming up. In fact, ads were so pervasive and relentless that, since the 6th district is various parts of 3 counties, there were many voters that showed up to the polls thinking they were in the district, only to be turned away. Know you district, folks. But I have to say that, after the election, we’re all winners now that the ads are done.

Polls showed that the race was narrowing. A couple days before the vote, Ossoff was up by 2 percentage points. On the day of the vote, the latest poll had him ahead by a mere 0.1%; one tenth of one percent. The thought was that we might not know that evening who won because Georgia law allows for an automatic recount if the margin is less than 1%.

As it turned out, Handel won with a 4% margin. Here are my thoughts.

Once again, the polls seemed to miss their predictions. Not as much as some recent examples, like Trump vs Clinton, or the Brexit vote, but it does seem like something’s changed among the electorate. Maybe it’s voters who can’t be bothered with phone polls, or those messing with the system by not answering truthfully. Who knows? But what I’ve noticed is that these errors always seem to be in the same direction. They just seem to always overestimate in the Democratic or liberal direction. I can’t see how doing this consistently would give pollsters any credibility, so I can’t believe it’s intentional. But perhaps it’s like unintentional bias in news coverage, where a herd mentality skews the information in the direction that most journalists or pollsters lean. The more uniform the ideology in the field, the less people see the bias. But pollsters deal with raw numbers, and success or failure is easy to measure, so you’d think they’d be less susceptible, but you gotta’ wonder.

Then there’s the issue of the “moral” victory for the Democrats. As I said, Tom Price used to win this seat by at least 20 points all the time, but Handel only won by 4. There are a couple of things to consider about this. First, yes, I think this is a significant difference. One reason I believe this happened is that, yes, Donald Trump has been his own worst enemy and that has rubbed off on Republicans in general. Seriously guy; get off Twitter!

So the Trump issue should have narrowed the gap. Should $28 million have closed it off completely? Yes, this was the most expensive US House campaign in history, and Ossoff got boatloads of money, mostly from out-of-state, and from liberal conclaves. They were heavily invested in him.

But they got nothing back from that investment. In spite of being outspent 7-to-1, Handel won. Understand that; the most money ever, and a 7-fold advantage didn’t close the gap for the Democrats. You’ve got to think that if this race had been just a normal one and not nationalized, that perhaps Handel’s margin would have been approaching Price’s, plus or minus the Trump factor.

Sorry, but I don’t see this as a “moral” victory at all, not when record-setting sugar daddies couldn’t pick up the seat. Handel even outperformed Donald Trump, who only won this district by 1.5 percentage points. For Republicans, it’s an actual victory. And if this was a referendum on Trump, well then he won as well.

Not to mention that a strong woman beat a white male. Still waiting for the Democrats to rejoice over that. Well, hold not thy breath.


I don’t have much time for a second story this episode, so I’m just going to do a quick climate change update. This statement comes from Isaac B. Smith at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “The volume and thickness of ice matches model predictions from the early 2000s. Radar observations of the ice cap provide a detailed history of ice accumulation and erosion associated with climate change.”

So see, warming really is happening. On Mars. Yes, apparently someone has opened an SUV dealership on Mars. Probably run by Saturn.

Filed under: Climate ChangeElections