The pluses and minuses of being Donald Trump's favorite in the Sixth District race

Welcome to the final day of the Sixth District congressional contest between Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff.

If you’re Handel, there are pluses and minuses to being a Republican under the gaze of President Donald Trump. These are the pluses:

On the other hand, this passage in today’s Washington Post hints at the downside:

Associates of Trump — who have said he is already furious over the focus on his handling of investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election — warned that an Ossoff win could spark new rage toward Handel’s campaign and the way the GOP handled the race.


“The Trump White House, in that situation, could certainly point to how Handel’s candidacy was always problematic,” said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign adviser. “What was her message? Was she running a local or national race? It has never been clear, and she has a history in Georgia as a right-winger.”

Brad Carver, an Atlanta attorney and chairman of the 11th District GOP, has taken it on the chin for suggesting to a Washington Post reporter that last week’s shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., could redound to Handel’s benefit today.

He posted his regrets on his Facebook page on Monday:

“I was asked about the Congressional baseball game shooting and its effect on the Congressional Race in the 6th District. I stated that I thought that voters would reject extremism and Karen Handel would win.

“Politics, human tragedy, and violence don’t mix. I should not have said what I said. I apologize for my remarks.”


If you’re looking for a bellwether tonight, keep your eye on Cobb County, the most Republican portion of the Sixth District. One of our number-crunching friends tells that these returns are the ones to watch.

One month ago, the runoff was held for state Senate District 32. Most of that state legislative district and the Cobb County portion of the Sixth overlap.

Republican Kay Kirkpatrick, a physician with strong ties to former congressman Tom Price, beat Democrat Christine Triebsch, a Marietta lawyer. (The seat had formerly been held by Republican Judson Hill.)

In that runoff, Kirkpatrick pulled 58 percent of the vote to Triebsch’s 42 percent. The latter was woefully underfunded.

Our number-crunching friend tells us that Ossoff doesn’t have to win Cobb to pull out a victory tonight. But he does have to do better than Triebsch. By his calculation, if you see Ossoff pulling 45 percent or better in Cobb – he’ll win.

If he’s pulling only 43 percent – Ossoff could still win, but it’ll be much closer.

If Handel keeps Ossoff under 43 percent in Cobb, then the night is probably hers, and Republicans retain a congressional seat they’ve held since Newt Gingrich was a young man.


More than a few 6th District voters will rejoice at having their car ads back on TVs, their doors unknocked:


Pollster Mark Rountree of Landmark Communications has a closer look at the newly-registered voters allowed to cast ballots in Tuesday's 6th District runoff thanks to a court ruling. From his Facebook post:

Research and a bit of analysis on the Sixth District runoff: we believe that there are only 1600 votes cast by the "new voters" who registered in the last 60 days and were permitted to vote by the judge's ruling. That is a pretty low impact, actually, considering what was at stake for all candidates.


When 7PM strikes on Election night, we estimate that maybe 2,750 or so of these voters will have voted. Probably split 3-1 for Ossoff, so maybe 700 of these votes will be for Handel vs perhaps 2,100 for Ossoff: a 1,400 vote differential.


Extra clarification (a few people asked): More than 10,000 new voters were registered during those 60 days in question and then processed (I don't remember the number at the moment). However just 1600 have actually voted in early voting so far, and perhaps around a total of 2750 will have voted once Election Day voting has closed.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.