Dems failed in Kansas and are now failing in Georgia. Great job Karen Handel! It is now Hollywood vs. Georgia on June 20th.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 19, 2017
President Trump has a way of pointing out the obvious that everyone else is missing. This is why he has been so good at branding — not only himself and his company, but his political rivals from the campaign (low-energy, little, etc.) and in the media (fake news).
The race in GA-06, however, was not just Hollywood versus Georgia. It was the liberal elite versus Trump. The Left has a way of uniting their movement to an extent that far surpasses the GOP, and they did so in this special election to replace former Rep. Tom Price — now Secretary of Health and Human Services.
But they came up short.
Even after raising $8.3 million (compared to the combined $900,000 of the top-funded GOP candidates), Democrat Jon Ossoff was unable to secure enough votes to avoid a runoff.
Most pundits are saying that even with the amount of money that was poured in to help Ossoff, the fact that he was able to almost pick off the seat — held by the GOP for several years — is a bad omen for the GOP as well as President Trump in the 2018 midterm elections.
However, no one is talking about how close the election was in GA-06 in 2016 between Secretary Clinton and now-President Trump. Trump barely won the congressional seat — by less than 5,000 votes or 1.5 percent last November — which is why it was a great opportunity and why the Left poured over $8 million into the race (95 percent of which came from out of state).
Tom Price won the district in 2016 — 61 percent to 38 percent — but he had held the seat since 2004. Congressional elections tend to be much more based on the reputation of the candidate and the candidate’s relationship with his or her constituents. In contrast, presidential elections are much more partisan, but even so, previous GOP presidential candidates won the district by similar margins to Price — Romney in 2012 won it with 60 percent of the vote and McCain won it in 2008 with 59 percent.
The most important thing to keep in mind here is that Trump has shifted the political landscape — which after he won Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio should be obvious.
The typical GOP coalition is much different than the Trump GOP coalition. It presents liabilities, sure, but mostly it presents opportunities. The traditional GOP coalition had grown stale as it was moving towards corporate-focused economic policy and more libertarian social policies. That coalition needed a shake up, and Trump provided that opportunity.
The GA-06 race isn’t over. There will be a runoff election on June 20th between Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel — a strong candidate. Ossoff will start off with around $2 million on hand, a major head start for anyone, let alone for a special election candidate.
While fundraising will matter greatly, the bigger factor will be how the GOP performs nationally over the next couple months. Will they pull it together and achieve some major accomplishments? Will they fight the Left on the most pressing issues, or will they dodge and deflect as they’ve done in the past?
Time will tell.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore