Pelosi Was a Huge Drag on Ossoff

First Read: “While national Republicans threw the kitchen sink at Ossoff, perhaps their most potent — and consistent — attack was linking him to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Democrats have to admit they have a Pelosi problem, especially in red states and districts. Yes, she brings money and legislative savvy to the party. But if Democratic candidates like Ossoff are going to campaign on change, Republicans can quickly undercut that message by simply showing Pelosi. It’s a legitimate question Democrats must ask themselves: Can they win back the House with Pelosi promising to stay in power?”

James Hohmann: “Republican operatives say that 98 percent of voters in the 6th District already had an impression of Pelosi when they conducted their first internal poll, and she was 35 points underwater. When presented with the choice of whether they wanted a representative who would work with Paul Ryan or Pelosi, six in 10 picked the Speaker and three in 10 picked the minority leader.”

Why Handel’s Win Isn’t a Disaster for Democrats

David Wasserman: “Although it’s true Democrats have agonizingly yet to capture a red district, they have outperformed their ‘generic’ share of the vote significantly in every contest. Measured against the Cook Political Report‘s Partisan Voter Index (PVI), Democrats have outperformed the partisan lean of their districts by an average of eight points in the past five elections.”

“If Democrats were to outperform their ‘generic’ share by eight points across the board in November 2018, they would pick up 80 seats. Of course, that won’t happen because Republican incumbents will be tougher to dislodge than special election nominees. But these results fit a pattern that should still worry GOP incumbents everywhere, regardless of Trump’s national approval rating and the outcome of the healthcare debate in Congress.”

Nate Cohn: “If Democrats keep running ahead of expectations across those plausibly competitive Republican-held seats, many seats will ultimately fall their way. But they will certainly lose more than they win. The question is whether they win enough, and no special election offers the answer to that.”

Georgia Race Proves That Candidates Matter

James Hohmann: “Democrats pinned their hopes on a 30-year-old who had never run for office before and didn’t even live in the district. Ossoff became more dynamic on the stump as the race dragged on, but his lack of a record made it easy to caricature him. He was a vessel through which Democrats channeled their hopes, but he lacked charisma.”

“Handel, 55, has been a fixture of local politics for 15 years. She chaired the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, served as Georgia secretary of state and narrowly lost GOP primaries to become governor in 2010 and then senator in 2014. She had the baggage that comes with being a career politician, but her deep roots and relationships certainly helped far more than they hurt. She was a known commodity who came into the race with high name identification.”

After $50 Million It Wasn’t Even That Close

Playbook: “Karen Handel quite easily beat Jon Ossoff in Georgia. House Republicans are now 4-0 in contested special elections since Donald Trump won the presidency. That means Democrats have failed — despite millions of dollars in spending — to win a single race with a president who has a record low approval rating. Democrats are even further from the majority than they thought.”

“Let’s be clear: something ain’t working for Democrats, party insiders privately tell us. The Ossoff race galvanized national donors and activists in a way that led many to believe House Democrats were en route to wresting control of the chamber from Republicans. That’s not how they feel this morning.”

“Caveat: this is a Republican seat. Being close is nice. But after six years in the minority, that’s about all it is.”

Politico: What we’ve learned from the 2017 special elections.

Handel Wins Special Election In Georgia

The New York Times projection points to a narrow win for Karen Handel over Jon Ossoff (D).

CNN also projects Handel will win.

David Wasserman: “Among the questions I can already hear Democrats asking tomorrow: Why didn’t Ossoff take the fight to Trump in his ads? And why didn’t he take a sledgehammer to the AHCA? Why did he run such a bland campaign? But I think a better explanation might be: After over $30 million in pro-Ossoff/anti-Handel ads, there is such a thing as Ossoff fatigue.”

For members: How to Read Tonight’s Special Election Results

Dead Heat In Georgia

The final WSB-TV poll in Georgia’s 6th congressional district finds Jon Ossoff (D) and Karen Handel (R) deadlocked at 49% each.

Key finding: “The poll is the first taken since last week’s ambush of Republican lawmakers at a baseball practice and the threatening letters sent to Handel and several of her neighbors. The poll showed a majority of voters who had yet to cast their ballots said the recent shootings had no effect on their decision. About one-third of election-day voters said the attack would make them ‘more likely’ to cast their ballots, and most of those were Republican.”

The RealClearPolitics polling average shows Handel leading by just .2%.

No Politics Is Local In 2017

Rick Klein: “The insane money and outsized attention are just two factors that make the race for Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District a less-than-ideal test case; this game won’t be played 50 or 60 times next November. And Democrat Jon Ossoff has resisted resistance-themed messaging, though he has benefited greatly from anti-Trump sentiments that have been channeled into Georgia. But rather than prescriptions for 2018, which are dubious in any special election, this race matters for 2017.”

“President Trump’s beleaguered agenda needs to show it can win on the ballot. Democrats needs to demonstrate that they can convince chunks of Trump voters that they offer a better path, and that energy can equal votes. Interestingly, both sides embraced the national implications of Ossoff-Handel in the closing days of the race. That will change Wednesday. (Cue stories about bad campaigning and inexplicable messaging despite pleas of national operatives.) But the message will have been delivered.”

Is Jon Ossoff the New Scott Brown?

David Nather: “If Democratic contender Jon Ossoff manages to squeeze out a victory tonight in Georgia’s sixth congressional district, it’ll be hard to deny some thematic similarities to Scott Brown’s upset election in 2010. The two aren’t identical, of course: Brown denied Democrats a 60th vote in the Senate; Republicans can easily afford to lose one House seat and still pass a bill.”

“But as canaries in coal mines go, the similarities could be telling. Brown’s victory was all about the ACA, and Ossoff has made health care an integral part of his closing argument in the race for HHS secretary Tom Price’s former seat.”

How GOP Reacts to Special Election Matters More

Nate Silver: “Everything we know about the Georgia 6 special election, from the polls, to the first-round results, to the results of special elections in other districts, to the shifting politics of Georgia 6, suggests that the race ought to be close. So if the race ends in a photo finish, with either Jon Ossoff or Karen Handel edging out the win by a couple of percentage points, it won’t necessarily be the ‘game-changer’ that it’s billed to be in terms of helping us to figure out what will happen in 2018. A blowout win by either candidate would be a bigger deal.”

“However, Republicans have a lot of decisions to make in terms of how to proceed with their unpopular health care bill and an unpopular President Trump. A loss in Georgia 6 wouldn’t necessarily be catastrophic unto itself, but it would be a warning sign that they’d have a lot of trouble ignoring, and it might lead to members in competitive districts starting to think about how to save their own jobs. So whatever the outcome, I’ll be watching how Republicans react as much as the results themselves.”

Time to Say the Election Administrator’s Prayer

Rick Hasen notes the latest polls in Georgia’s 6th congressional district are extremely close.

“Add into that concerns over the election security of Georgia’s voter registration system… and an electronic voting system with no paper trail, making a recount not much of a recount. Add in all the talk of voter fraud and voter suppression going around these days.”

“All of it is a recipe for crazy conspiracy theories and claims of foul play and chicanery should the election be very close. It may get very, very ugly.”

“That’s why the Election Administrator’s prayer may be the best chance to avoid disaster.”

The Most Expensive House Race In History

NBC News: “When he ran for president in 1976, Jimmy Carter raised about $33 million and made it to all the way to the White House. In special congressional election Tuesday near Carter’s Atlanta home, the candidates and outside groups have already spent $40 million and counting. The race, which pits Democrat Jon Ossoff against Republican Karen Handel, is easily the most expensive House race in American history, captivating both officials in Washington and grassroots activists across the country in the first pitched electoral battle of the Donald Trump presidency.”

Democrats Make Final Push In Georgia’s 6th

Politico: “Democrats are closer than they ever could have imagined to winning a House seat in the Republican suburbs of Atlanta, and dealing a resounding blow to Donald Trump. But they’re also gripped by anxiety about what happens if they fall short Tuesday. A loss in Georgia’s special election here could leave the party demoralized, with little to show for all the furious organizing, fundraising and spending in a handful of congressional special elections in the early months of the Trump administration.”

“As a result, Democrats are now straining to throw everything they have at Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District to push Jon Ossoff over the top against Republican Karen Handel, aiming to prove they can win the suburban districts that may pave the way to a House majority in 2018.”

Stu Rothenberg: “Democratic strategists may hate the idea that they must win the June 20 special election in Georgia’s 6th District, but that doesn’t make it any less true.”