Jon Ossoff's loss in Georgia came with a hefty price tag

It was an expensive lesson for Democrats, as the GOP won the most expensive House race ever

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published June 21, 2017 7:44AM (EDT)

Jon Ossoff   (Getty/Joe Raedle)
Jon Ossoff (Getty/Joe Raedle)

The Georgia special election on Tuesday ended with Republican candidate Karen Handel defeating Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff by an unexpectedly large margin of four points.

But if campaign money would determine the outcome, Democrats would have won in a landslide.

Ossoff raised $23.6 million, compared to only $4.5 million raised for Handel, according to a report by The New York Times. Of the itemized contributions received by each candidate (that is, those which were usually in excess of $200), 86 percent of Ossoff's contributions came from outside the state of Georgia, compared to 44 percent of Handel's contributions.

This doesn't mean that Handel was at a complete financial disadvantage compared to Ossoff. She benefited from $18.2 million in spending from party committees and independent groups, while Ossoff only benefited from $7.6 million of comparable spending on his behalf.

When it comes to the question of out-of-state spending on the Ossoff and Handel campaigns, open-seat House candidates who raised at least $100,000 in 2016 received a median of only 18 percent of their contributions from states outside their congressional districts.

This factor matters because, as The Post noted in its post-election analysis, there is considerable reason to believe that controversy over Ossoff's residency in Georgia's sixth congressional district may have impacted that election result.

"One of the top knocks on Ossoff was that he didn't actually live in the district he was running in," the Post wrote. "And while it's difficult to say whether and how much that hurt him, there are plenty of examples in recent years of voters being not terribly fond of voting for someone who has such issues."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Georgia Special Election Jon Ossoff Karen Handel Partner Video