Jon Ossoff is doomed: Democrats' hopes in Georgia are fading, as a runoff election looms

Ossoff looks to be falling well short of the vote needed to avoid a runoff election he'll surely lose

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published April 14, 2017 6:50PM (EDT)

Jon Ossoff   (AP/Bill Barrow/Getty/Shutterstock/Salon)
Jon Ossoff (AP/Bill Barrow/Getty/Shutterstock/Salon)

The good news is that Jon Ossoff is succeeding in making the race for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District competitive. The bad news is that he's probably not going to be going to the House of Representatives.

According to a newly released poll, the 30-year-old Democrat will likely fall short of the 50 percent vote share in Tuesday's election he needs to win the race outright. While Ossoff leads the crowded field of mostly Republicans vying to replace Republican Tom Price, who vacated the seat in February to serve as Trump's Health and Human Services secretary, he is currently only polling at 39 percent

"Ossoff is barely clearing a third of the remaining vote with much of the rest divided in a battle royal between four Republican hopefuls,"  Decision Desk HQ’s Brandon Finnigan wrote to introduce the newly released poll his outlet sponsored. According to the poll conducted by Red Racing Horses, Ossoff's closest competitors, Republicans Karen Handel and Bob Gray, poll at 15 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

As one of the only congressional elections held in President Donald Trump first 100 days, the race to represent the district of former House speaker Newt Gingrich has attracted national attention. Ossoff, hopeful Democrats have dared to utter aloud, may become the district’s first Democratic representative in nearly four decades. But according to this rare public poll, voters in the traditionally Republican district may be waking up to the same realization in enough time to deny the resistance such a win.

"If these voters stay engaged and do eventually show up, they’ll prevent Ossoff from clearing 50 percent Tuesday," Finnigan explained. If Tuesday's race ends in a runoff, then Ossoff has little hope of stealing a win in a head-to-head race against a Republican. Tom Price won re-election in November by more than 20 points.

The only hope Ossoff has of avoiding a runoff in this traditionally Republican district is by making it an explicit referendum on Trump.

“If you are looking for a referendum on President Donald Trump, here’s your district,” Finnigan said. The president appears to have played a major role in Ossoff’s success, so. Trump barely beat Clinton by less than 2 percentage points in the red state district Mitt Romney won by a double-digit margin in 2012. And RRH’s poll found that 46 percent of respondents in the district already disapprove of his performance in office.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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