What went down in Georgia? Biased polling, reporting

Photo of Karen Handel
Rep.-elect Karen Handel will represent Georgia’s 6th District after beating a well-funded Democrat.

Karen Handel won Georgia’s 6th District, even though just weeks ago polls said that opponent Jon Ossoff, who held the hopes and aspirations of Democrats everywhere, was heading for the win. He was the rising liberal star.

A poll published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had Ossoff leading Handel 51-44 in late May, and reported he had “… a large advantage in the June 20 runoff.”

The AJC, a newspaper that famously leans left, went on:

“Ossoff led Handel among women by 6 points, comparable to other recent polls in the nationally watched race. But it also showed him with nearly a double-digit lead among male voters,” the Constitution reported.

“The upset-minded Democrat is trouncing Handel among voters who identify themselves as independents, a crucial voting bloc in the conservative-leaning district. Republicans have long relied on self-described independents to vote for the GOP in Georgia,” the newspaper opined.

Yesterday, the AJC kept up the background drumbeat for Ossoff:  “Ossoff’s campaign has long-held that it has the edge in voter enthusiasm – a more committed base of voters who will flock to the polls regardless to support him.” The writer was addressing whether rainy weather might keep Democrats home, as southern lore predicts it does.

On June 1, another poll released by WSB-TV/Landmark Communications, showed that 49.1 percent of voters favored Ossoff, and 47.6 percent favored Handel. Landmark polls suggested an even closer race by June 18, showing the candidates only one point apart, well within the margin of error.

“We’re looking at a dead heat,” Landmark President Mark Rountree told WSB-TV.

On May 23, Salon had Ossoff with a comfortable seven point lead. Democratic pollster John Anzalone said Ossoff was in a strong position, and Ossoff himself chirped, “This is what momentum looks like.”

Even on Election night, the media could not comprehend what was happening.  Politico published a graphic that had the results reversed, with Ossoff winning and Handel losing. The publication later corrected it.

It is a district that trends liberal, to be sure. And yet, the Republican won, 52.7 to 47.3 percent.

There’s no denying the election in Georgia was the hill Democrat strategists chose to die on as their referendum on President Donald Trump’s agenda.

Would the jittery supporters of the president come through for him? They would. Just as they did in April, when an open seat special election in Kansas was won by Ron Estes, the Republican candidate who survived a tough challenge from Democrat James Thompson in what is known as a conservative district.


The Left had also made Georgia’s 6th the most expensive race in U.S. House history. The open seat was the focus for the “Resist” movement across the country. For one shining moment, all eyes were on suburban Atlanta.

For her part, Representative-elect Handel is making history as the first Republican woman to be elected to Congress from Georgia. After being battered by $30 million in negative campaigning by Ossoff, she graciously said that she would represent all her constituents, including those who voted for Ossoff.

Earlier this month, her home and her neighbors’ homes were targeted with threatening letters and packages containing white powders. At about the same time, it was discovered that Ossoff doesn’t even live in the district that he was running to serve, and would not be able to vote for himself.

Democrats will turn their focus back to the president, who gives them ample opportunity to attack. These relentless attacks compound and create fatigue with voters. As we brace for the 2018 election cycle, the Indivisible Project and the Democratic Party will regroup and look for a new way to connect with voters. Because if they can’t win the Georgia 6th, even with obscene levels of campaign spending, they’re in trouble.