Surge of 10K early votes on Saturday points to heavy 6th District turnout

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Saturday marked the only weekend day reserved for early voting in all three counties that make up the Sixth District: Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb. Chad Rhym, chad.rhym@ajc.com

More than 10,000 people cast ballots on Saturday in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District race, bringing the total number of votes already cast in the June 20 runoff phase to roughly 94,000. That’s nearly half the entire turnout in the April 18 phase of the contest.

The rule of thumb is that early voting is a friend to Democrats, while Republicans — who are older, presumably with more ingrained voting habits — turn out strong on Election Day.

In the April 18 vote, Ossoff won 48.1 percent, narrowly missing a victory without a runoff in traditionally GOP territory. Karen Handel collected 19.8 percent, besting several Republican rivals.

But early voting told a different story in that first round. Ossoff won even more handily among the early, in-person voters of Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties, taking 62 percent. Among early voters, Ossoff even took 57 percent of the vote in Cobb, the most Republican portion of the district.

Early voting accounted for only a quarter of the April 18 vote, but it could make up a larger share in Round Two.

But within the 6th District’s conservative-friendly borders, Republicans hope the higher turnout winds up being a boon for them. After all, Handel supporters say, there are simply more GOP voters in the district to tap.

We’ve recently had conversations with two GOP strategists, one with the Handel campaign and one not. Both note that day by day, the percentage of early voters with Democratic primary histories is shrinking and the percentage of voters with GOP voting histories is increasing.

But there is a third group that could make the difference: those with no primary voting history at all. And they are voting at a steady clip.

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We told you late last week that President Donald Trump made a robocall ad for Republican Karen Handel in the 6th District race that was very much an attack ad. The president said that Democrat Jon Ossoff’s election would result in both increased taxes and increased crime in metro Atlanta.

This morning, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson is doing a radio ad, but his message is Handel-centric, aimed at more traditional GOP voters. Listen here:

 

From the script:

“In Congress, we can trust Karen to cut spending and reduce the role of the federal government in our lives. She supports repealing and replacing Obamacare, and passing tax reform to get the economy going. I know Karen Handel is a proven leader who will represent us well in Washington.”

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A second Democrat has joined the race to flip the fast-changing state Senate district held by Republican Hunter Hill. Pediatric dentist Jaha Howard said Monday that he is in the race for the seat, which covers parts of Cobb County and Atlanta.

Howard was narrowly defeated by Hill in November, but he’ll face a stiff challenge to win his party’s nomination. Trial lawyer Jen Jordan has already announced her candidacy.  Hill is vacating the seat to run for governor, and the district — which Hillary Clinton easily carried — is one of the top Democratic targets.

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You do not often see campaigns for governor begin with confessions of a trailer-home past and a tale of domestic abuse that cops refused to stop. But that’s what’s in Democrat Stacey Evans debut video, titled “16 homes.” Watch here:

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Democrats in Georgia are taking exception to a New York Times report that employed a 6th District dateline when it described a growing rift within that party:

DUNWOODY, Ga. – Democrats are facing an open breach between the demands of their political base and the strict limits of their power, as liberal activists dream of transforming the health care system and impeaching President Trump, while candidates in hard-fought elections ask wary independent voters merely for a fresh chance at governing.

The growing tension between the party’s ascendant militant wing and Democrats in conservative-leaning terrain, where the party must compete to win power in Congress, was on vivid, split-screen display over the weekend: in Chicago, where Senator Bernie Sanders led a revival-style meeting of his progressive devotees, and in Atlanta, where Democrats are spending colossal sums of money in hopes of seizing a traditionally Republican congressional district.

This morning, Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz copied us on a letter to the editor he had composed. It included this:

Contrary to the authors’ claim of a deep divide between such candidates and the Party’s base, Ossoff’s campaign has been fueled by millions of dollars in small donations from rank-and-file Democrats across the country eager to send a signal to President Trump and Republican leaders in Washington that their days in power are numbered.

Here in Georgia, the level of grassroots activism on behalf of Ossoff has been unprecedented with a small army of volunteers conducting rallies and ringing doorbells in the days leading up to the June 20th runoff.  Whatever the final outcome of that runoff, it is clear that Democrats in Georgia and across the nation have been extraordinarily united in support of the Ossoff campaign.

Likewise, Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson has a well-timed op-ed piece in The Daily Beast about the kinds of Democrats that can win elections in the South, a model she describes as the “pragmatic progressive.” A taste:

As voters in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia begin voting in the June 20 Jon Ossoff/Karen Handel run-off, politicos and uber-engaged voters around the country are wondering if this election will signal a new dawn in our long partisan darkness. It could be that a new pragmatic leadership style is emerging: one that is easier on the eyes and ears of independents, suburban moderates, blue-collar workers, and millennials. The Pragmatic Progressive is a strong Democrat in economic and social/civic policy, but understands these policies benefit many beyond their base and are not afraid to go into the lion’s den, if need be, to let them know so.

A Pragmatic Progressive – and Ossoff sure seems like one – can explain to you why Democratic policies are not special-interest politics but are sound economic strategies for citizens at every economic level.

 


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