Why Everyone's Talking About Georgia's Special Election

It's an important day for Trump opponents.

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(Image credit: Archives)

The Democrats are hoping to claim a congressional seat in Georgia (opens in new tab) this week—and send a message to the president. On Tuesday, voters in Georgia's 6th congressional district (in suburban Atlanta) will head to the polls to select a new rep for the seat vacated by current HHS Secretary Tom Price. The district is a longtime Republican stronghold—a Democrat hasn't represented Georgia's 6th since before the current leading democratic candidate was born.

In 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the district by 24 points. Last November, Trump edged out Hillary Clinton by just 1 point.

The party's primary candidate is Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old documentary filmmaker—and Kennedy ringer—who used to work as a congressional staffer. Ossoff's campaign should have been a long-shot, but organization from frustrated Democrats has helped marshal support behind him. Ossoff has raised $8.3 million, an unheard of number for a race of this size. The majority of that money has come from outside the state.

For the special election, there 18 candidates running on one ballot: 11 Republicans, five Democrats and two independents. In order to be elected outright, Ossoff will have to bring in more than 50 percent of the total vote. Currently, polls estimate he has about 47 percent support. If he falls short of the threshold he needs, he'll progress to a runoff election (opens in new tab) between himself and the next-highest finisher on June 20th.

Early voting initially showed Democrats with a lead, but the gap closed in the final days. Despite that, the election is considered so close that the president stepped into the conversation (opens in new tab) Monday morning.

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(We'll forgive POTUS the typo and the lack of Oxford comma.)

The election has drawn some comparisons to last week's special election in Kansas, where Republicans were forced to make a heavy last-minute push after polls showed Republican candidate Ron Estes just single digits ahead of his Democratic competitor (opens in new tab). Trump's comments Monday morning appear to be suggesting that Georgia's election is a non-story, but the election in Kansas suggests otherwise.

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Estes ultimately won his race by just 7 points, a shockingly low lead in an area where Republicans outnumber Democrats 2-to-1. Mike Pompeo, whose seat Estes filled when Pompeo became director of the CIA, won his election in November by 31 points.

Republicans' lead in Georgia's 6th back in November is comparatively nonexistent. If Democrats are able to flip this seat, it could be a sign of dissatisfaction with the Trump administration, as well as a sign of things to come for Republicans in the 2018 midterms.

But even if Republicans prevail on Tuesday, the shifting demographics (opens in new tab) in Georgia suburbs are likely to make future races more competitive.

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