In preparation for Georgia’s runoff special election, Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff earned a slim majority of the vote in a poll released Friday, casting doubt that Republicans can keep the district they’ve held since 1979.
Ossoff earned 51 percent, a stunning first for the young Democrat. Republican challenger and former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel trailed with 44 percent of the vote. A surprisingly low 5 percent of voters remained undecided in the race, according to the ABT Associates Poll.
The special election was necessary after President Donald Trump appointed former Rep. Tom Price to Secretary of Health And Human Services in February. The special election was held April 18, but neither candidate earned higher than 50 percent, forcing Ossoff and Handel into a runoff election June 20.
Democrats held Georgia’s 6th congressional seat from 1855 until 1979, and Republicans have a long streak of holding the state on their own. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich held the seat until 1999 when Sen. Johnny Isakson took over until 2005. Former Rep. Tom Price held the seat until February.
Ossoff led with female voters, earning 60 percent compared to Handel’s 34 percent. He also led with young voters, according to the report. Handel held leads with white voters as well as those over the age of 65, two demographics that traditionally vote Republican.
Most surprisingly, Ossoff earned the support of 13 percent of registered Republicans. He and Handel split the Independent vote, each earning 50 percent. Only 3 percent of Democrats supported Handel.
Ossoff continues to have a massive fundraising advantage. He’s earned $15 million in donations to the campaign since the April 18 vote, compared to Handel’s meager $4 million in the same time frame, according to The New York Times.
The Democrat had an unsuccessful showing in the race’s first debate, and this poll doesn’t really reflect public reaction to that performance. The debate took place June 7, and the poll ran from June 5 through June 8.
The poll carried a margin of error of 4 percentage points and surveyed 1,000 registered voters.
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