Statistician Nate Silver dumped cold water Monday on Democrat hopes in the race for Georgia’s 6th congressional district, saying Democrat Jon Ossoff is unlikely to win the election Tuesday outright.
Ossoff is running against Republican Rep. Tom Price in the race. Although he is the leading Democrat in the race, he’s not expected to win outright, according to Silver’s analysis. Instead he’ll likely have to fend off the runner-up in a runoff election.
“Ossoff will probably finish with less than 50 percent of the vote, which would trigger a runoff between him and the next-highest finisher,” Silver, founder of FiveThirtyEight, wrote in the analysis.
Ossoff’s best chance to win Tuesday is to take the race by 50 percent of the vote or higher. If he fails, he’ll proceed to a runoff against the next highest challenger, most likely to be Republican Karen Handel, according to Silver’s analysis. He’s unlikely to do well in the runoff election, however, because the combined support of all 11 Republicans in the race so far amounts to higher support than Ossoff has had in recent polling. Anyone who votes for a Republican Tuesday’s race is of course more likely to vote for the remaining Republican in the runoff election held in June.
Although Ossoff and Handel are neck and neck in a recent head to head poll, Silver asserts that the aggregate partisan vote tally is more important historically in special elections than head to head projections.
Ossoff is polling on average between 42 percent and 46 percent, close to the 50 percent mark.
The Democratic party is heavily invested in the race. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democrat Sen. Cory Booker have held high-dollar fundraisers, and Democrats nationwide poured more than $8.3 million into the race in the first quarter of January.
Ossoff started his campaign as a direct referendum of Trump, and it’s done well for him so far. Organizers have been driving voters to the polls for the past few weeks, and Democrats hope their strong Anti-Trump experiment will yield dividends for 2018.
Senate Dems are already forced to contend with relatively safe Republican seats if they want to reduce GOP control of the upper chamber of Congress, and Democrats will also find themselves defending several close races for the House.
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