Eleven days out, the most expensive and built-up House special election of all time is still a Toss Up. Fueled by anger towards President Trump from all corners of the country, Democrat Jon Ossoff has raised $25 million to Republican Karen Handel's $4 million, but at this point it's a story of diminishing returns: for example, Ossoff has aired three Spanish-language ads in a district where the electorate could be only 5 percent Latino.
Both sides are desperately scouring for any tiny advantages that could break this deadlocked race. At this point, with so few truly persuadable voters, the best question to ask might be what has changed since April 18, when Ossoff took 48 percent in the initial round and Republicans combined for 51 percent of the vote.
First, the runoff is attracting much higher turnout than the first round. More than 70,000 GA-06 voters have already cast ballots, and early voting is tracking far ahead of the 2014 midterms and not far behind the 2016 general election. The extraordinary pace has Republicans optimistic they've awoken their dormant base, but Democrats also express confidence they're turning out low-propensity voters - as well as 8,000 voters who registered since April.
Second, if anything the political environment has continued to sour for Republicans since April. On April 18, FiveThirtyEight's polling average pegged Trump's approval rating at 42 percent. Today, it's at 38 percent, and pollsters involved in GA-06 have observed a similar local decline. That's not a nosedive, but when you consider that Republicans outpolled Ossoff by just three points in the first round, it could make a meaningful pro-Ossoff difference.
Third, while Republican outside groups continue to pound Ossoff as a resume-padding leftist, last week Ossoff began running ads featuring breast cancer survivors attacking Handel's rocky tenure at the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Democrats also quickly pounced on Handel's comment in a Tuesday debate that she doesn't support a "livable wage." But these aren't topics that are likely to cause Republicans to abandon Handel.
On balance, these developments may give Ossoff an advantage by a hair. A Landmark Communications poll taken for WSB-TV this week showed Ossoff leading 50 percent to 47 percent. That tracks with at least one Democratic poll showing Ossoff with a tiny lead. There is not enough evidence to move the race out of Toss Up, but a Handel win would now seem like a coup for Republicans and a huge disappointment for House Democrats.
June 21, 2017GA-06: Why Handel's Win Isn't a Disaster for Democrats
April 19, 2017GA-06: Still a Toss Up as Ossoff and Handel Advance to Runoff
August 25, 2016Battleground States: Georgia