Tags: jon ossoff | karen handel | georgia | nancy pelosi

Tied to National Democrats, Ossoff Loses Georgia Election

Tied to National Democrats, Ossoff Loses Georgia Election
Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff and and his fiancee, Alisha Kramer, exit after he gave a concession speech speak during his election night party being held at the Westin Atlanta Perimeter North Hotel after returns show him losing the race for Georgia's 6th Congressional District on June 20, 2017, in Atlanta, Georgia. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

By Wednesday, 21 June 2017 02:39 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Jon Ossoff could be called the "$25 million man." The national Democrats pumped about that much cash into his campaign. It is true the Republicans also shoveled millions to help their candidate, Karen Handel, during the Sixth District special election for the seat in the United States House of Representatives. Is one party responsible for the spending spree? The answer is "Yes." There is little doubt that Ossoff was the initiator of the expensive media campaign. Republicans then, after Ossoff’s spending, began to help Handel with large amounts of cash. So the first conclusion from the election is that in spite of huge sums of Democratic money, their candidate lost: 52 percent to 48 percent.

The Democrats really needed a win: trounced by Trump and losing several other local elections in the last year, the Sixth District appeared to be a place to reverse the Republican tide. Since the Democrats made such a "last stand" in the Sixth District, the conclusion must be the Democrats are still in retreat and losing.

Going into the election all of the polls showed Ossoff likely to win. An Atlanta Constitution sponsored ABT Associates poll of 1,000 registered voters found Ossoff in front by 7 percent; this was wrong, badly wrong. Other polls showed Ossoff ahead by 2 percent, presumably within the margin of error. For Handel to win by 4 percent, suggests pollsters are still not accurately predicting the winner, and their polls may have a Democratic bias. The polls also were incorrect in the 2016 presidential election. One must ponder whether the polls are badly flawed or there is a deliberate effort to portray the Democratic candidates as likely winners.

On the chance that the polls are deliberately finding the Democratic candidate in the lead, what is the rationale for doing so? Usually it is a misguided belief that there is a "bandwagon effect" in elections — in other words, some voters will simply choose the candidate likely to win. Political research shows there is almost no sign of a "bandwagon effect."

Aside from not getting a momentum boost with the Sixth District election, the Democrats remain searching for a strategy to attract voters. Some observers believed the Ossoff campaign could be a template for how to conduct congressional elections in 2018. Ossoff’s plan was the following: (1) emphasize issues that would be popular with all voters, such as making government efficient, cutting out waste, programs for better jobs, etc; (2) not to adopt or defend the national Democratic agenda, but rather ignore it; (3) have an intensive grassroots campaign, including getting new voters registered, and (4) blanket the air waves with media ads — a massive sales job.

The Ossoff’s strategy did not work, at least in the Sixth District. Instead Ossoff’s media advertising activated the Republicans: money and voters began appearing at Handel’s doorstep. Moreover, voters began to wonder how Ossoff lined up with the national Democrats. Why was he avoiding national issues? The voters suspected that Ossoff was really a "wolf in sheep’s clothing;" he was cut out of the same cloth as the rejected national Democrats.

One must ask why Democrats are afraid to campaign on the issues that national Democrats, such as House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, subscribe to. It is rather a difficult business for a national party to conduct local elections by concealing the issues for which the party stands.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reporting, only slightly biased for Ossoff, at one point attempted to tease out of the polling data a spin that voters were leaning to the Democrat because of the fear of losing Obamacare. In the poll, one of the questioned asked was "the importance of health care," and this was perhaps the most important issue among voters; however, one might believe a Republican voter could also say health care was important, having in mind getting rid of Obamacare. Considering the outcome of the election, it is likely many Handel voters were not interested in Obamacare and turning one seventh more of the national economy over to the government.

There is no doubt Democrats were energized, many intensely disliked Trump; there simply were not enough of them to win the election. Moreover, Democratic intensity activated Republican energy. The night of the election at Handel headquarters a huge roar of approval occurred when Trump’s name was mentioned.

After this election, one might imagine Democrats would shift their leaders and their issues to a more middle of the road stance, assuming issues on which candidates can campaign. One would think they would tell their violent street armies to take off their masks and put down their weapons, but instead they will say Republicans are just as bad. Has anyone seen Tea Party marchers wearing masks and carrying weapons? These Democrats are religiously obsessed with returning to power — one way or the other. At the least, Democrats have not yet found a plan to win elections that reconciles extreme, unworkable policies at the national level with attracting votes at the local level. What Democrats perhaps have learned is attempting to trick the voter by an expensive slick media campaign that doesn’t mention their national policies is unlikely to win many elections.

John Havick has a Ph.D. in political science. He was a professor at Georgia Institute of Technology for many years, authored several books and a number of articles, including the widely cited "The Impact of the Internet on a Television-Based Society." His work has appeared in The New York Times, and his recent book, "The Ghosts of NASCAR: The Harlan Boys and the First Daytona 500," is available at ghostsofnascar.com. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Jon Ossoff could be called the "$25 million man." The national Democrats pumped about that much cash into his campaign.
jon ossoff, karen handel, georgia, nancy pelosi
Wednesday, 21 June 2017 02:39 PM
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