Democrats and liberal groups are pouring money and resources into a Georgia congressional race in support of an upstart 30-year-old candidate in a district that has been a Republican stronghold since 1979.
The Democrats' hopes are currently pinned on Jon Ossoff, a documentary filmmaker and former congressional aid, for whom they have helped raise $8.3 million from more than 200,000 donors around the country, according to Politico.
Several candidates from both parties are running in the race for Georgia's 6th seat; if no candidate secures the 50 percent mark on April 18, there will be a runoff between the top two candidates.
Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel are currently polling the highest. According to a WSB poll, Ossoff is polling at 45 percent, with Handel in second -- but far behind -- with 17.4 percent.
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The other top three candidates are also Republican and polling at or around 8 percent.
"If I had to put money on it, I’d say Ossoff is headed for a runoff against [Republican candidate] Karen Handel," said Jim Galloway, a political columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, according to the New Yorker. "Ossoff is going to look for the support of college-educated women and independents. And they’re not going to be turned off by Handel."
As for the possibility that Ossoff secures 50 percent and eliminates the need for a runoff, Galloway said that he would be "mildly surprised" if that happened.
GOP pollster Brian Robinson downplayed Ossoff's high poll numbers.
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"No one in this race has come anywhere near the resources that he has, and he only has 45 percent," Robinson said, according to WSB. "That’s bad news for any Democrat going into a runoff in a Republican-friendly, long-term Republican-held district."
Charles Bullock, a political scientist at the University of Georgia, had a different take.
"[Ossoff] literally came out of nowhere; three or four months ago, no one -- even in Georgia politics -- knew who he was," Bullock said, according to Politico. "He had virtually zero name recognition. It’s not like [former Governor] Roy Barnes comes out of retirement and runs for Congress. He was a complete unknown. Now you can’t turn on TV without hearing four ads for him."
According to the New Republic, many pundits have argued that, if a young progressive like Ossoff is able to pull of a victory in the affluent, Republican-heavy district, it will indicate a sentiment of resistance to President Donald Trump in even the more conservative areas of the countries.
But Kyle Kondik, managing editor of the election analysis website Sabato’s Crystal Ball, said that might be an overstatement.
"These special elections can be flukey," Kondik said. "I’m always necessarily leery of attaching too much importance to these specials, particularly since the midterm is so far away."