Republicans are gaining ground in the special election to replace Georgia Rep. Tom Price, according to a new poll published Monday by a local Fox affiliate.
Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff still leads in the 18-candidate field, but Republican former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel is now in a close second. Handel earned 41 percent, compared to Ossoff’s 42.4 percent.
GOP Rep. Bob Gray also trailed Ossoff, but by a slightly larger margin. Ossoff won 44.3 percent compared to Gray’s 42.3 percent. Former state Sen. Dan Moody came within 2.3 percentage points of the Democratic leader.
State Sen. Judson Hill was the only Republican to lead Ossoff, leading by .4 percentage points.
“The stakes in this race – the entire nation is watching – are too high to risk putting the wrong Republican into the runoff,” Hill told Georgia local politics site Zpolitics. “For undecided voters who want to see lower taxes, a stronger defense, a repeal and replace of Obamacare and tough immigration enforcement, our campaign offers the best hope for helping the president enact the reforms we so desperately need.”
It should be noted that the head-to-head format of the polling is slightly skewed to the Republican’s favor. The special election for Georgia’s 6th district is a free-for-all, meaning that voters will select one of the 18 candidates, which includes 11 Republicans, giving Democrats an advantage.
No other Democrat is as popular to Ossoff, however, which means that the special election is unlikely to produce a run-off election in June that will feature two Democratic candidates. Instead, it’s likely that one of the Republicans will go head-to-head with Ossoff in the run-off election.
Ossoff enjoyed nearly a 6 point lead against Handel in a February poll, spurring Democratic optimism that they could take the strong Republican seat, but significant ad spending by Republican groups over the past month resulted in a much closer race, according to the poll.
The poll included 462 registered voters in the district, and carried a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points in either direction.
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