GOP group: Attack ads linking Jon Ossoff, Nancy Pelosi paying dividends

WASHINGTON – A Republican super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan claims its more than $2 million effort to sink Democrat Jon Ossoff’s standing in the polls is beginning to pay off in Georgia’s special election.

The Congressional Leadership Fund is one of several GOP groups to pour money into the race to replace Tom Price in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. They’re the folks behind the headline-grabbing ‘Han Solo’ ad, as well as more recent spots framing Ossoff as a “rubber stamp for (Nancy) Pelosi’s agenda.”

And in a recent memo obtained by Insider, the super PAC said its offensive is beginning to change the political dynamics in the final weeks of the race.

The group cites a self-commissioned survey that found that Ossoff’s standing in the polls has remained more or less unchanged in the latter half of March, from 37 percent mid-month to 36 percent last week.  They also highlight that more voters now see the Democrat in an unfavorable light than before they ramped up their advertising.

Writes Corry Bliss, the group’s executive director:

“In just one week, Ossoff has stalled on the ballot, and most importantly, he is now underwater with more voters viewing him unfavorably (38% favorable, 47% unfavorable). This is a large swing from last week when he was +17 (43% favorable, 26% unfavorable).”    

The Congressional Leadership Fund, or CLF, is not the only outside GOP group to use Pelosi, the House Democratic Leader, to nationalize the 6th District race, which is seen as an early referendum on Donald Trump's young presidency. The National Republican Congressional Committee warned in a recent ad that “Nancy Pelosi and liberal politicians are flooding into Georgia to try and stop our Republican majority that’s getting things done.” CLF estimated that more than 40 percent of 6th District voters have a negative opinion of Pelosi.

One interesting nugget from the survey is that a plurality of respondents, 44 percent to 37 percent, think Ossoff "will hold Donald Trump accountable," one of the Democrat's biggest campaign pledges.

A Democratic victory in the reliably Republican 6th District would be a major upset -- the seat has been in GOP hands since the 1970s. Price, now Trump's health chief, routinely notched victories in the double digits, although the president barely carried the district in November.

Ossoff, meanwhile, has led the crowded, 18-person field with roughly 40 percent in recent polls. The Democrat has openly discussed winning the April 18th contest outright, but the large number of candidates virtually ensures that a runoff will be needed in June.

The survey of 400 likely special election voters, first reported by Politico Pro, was conducted by GS Strategy Group on March 29 and 30. The margin of error is 4.9 percent.

More AJC coverage of the Sixth District race:

With Ossoff at the gates, Republicans try to fortify Georgia Sixth

Ossoff fights ‘top-secret’ attacks in Georgia special election

An 18-candidate debate shows how jumbled Georgia special election is

Staff raids and social media hijinks: GOP infighting ramps up in Georgia Sixth

Republicans, Democrats target Ossoff in Georgia special election

How outside forces play an outsized role in Georgia’s 6th District race

House GOP health care plan divides Sixth District candidates

Jon Ossoff rattles conservatives in race for Georgia’s Sixth

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that...