Trump congratulates Handel on Twitter

This meant that, on the presidential level, the district was by far the most favorable to Democrats of those four open seats.

"High-Stakes Referendum on Trump Takes Shape in a Georgia Special Election", said the headline in The New York Times on June 18.

The US state of Georgia holds a congressional election on Tuesday, with the Democrats seeking to deliver their first major blow to Donald Trump's presidency.

The seat in Georgia's 6th Congressional District became vacant after prominent Republican Tom Price went to serve as Trump's health secretary.

Polls suggest the race for the seat in suburban Atlanta between Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel is very close.

Perhaps the affluent sixth district of Georgia was never the most likely place to rebel against Republican plans to slash Medicaid. "I think Republicans will continue to recognize that taking away coverage from millions of Americans and raising costs for millions more is a politically unpopular and risky enterprise". They ran a banjo-strumming populist in Montana.

After a long-fought campaign that gained national attention and millions of dollars in contributions, Republican Karen Handel claimed victory Tuesday night in the race for the 6th Congressional District.

If November was the height of political winter for Democrats, the party faithful have been desperately searching ever since for the first signs of spring.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Jon Ossoff speaks to volunteers.

Handel won the election with 52.6 percent of the votes to Ossoff's 47.4 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting. It should be remembered that Republican candidates collectively received 51% of the primary vote.

Unprecedented sums of money has poured into the candidates campaigns. A large chunk of campaign funds came from California. "Reduce the deficit so the economy can keep growing".

The above policy pronouncements sound like something from Herbert Hoover, Ronald Reagan or Karen Handel. Pfft. They were talking about Ossoff as the next Obama!

Of course, there's more than one way to look at the results.

Males supported Handel 52.6% to 45.7% while women supported Ossoff by nearly exactly the same margin.

Opinion polls showed a close race, and so it was, but Handel came out the victor.

Ossoff, 30, is a former congressional staffer turned documentary filmmaker who has become a symbol of the anti-Trump movement.

His campaign has attracted more supporters than some expected.

In the lead-up to the vote, Ossoff appeared well-positioned to pull off the upset. In an attempt to negate the outsider charge, Ossoff said he lived "a few blocks outside District 6".

Furthermore - and crucially - Donald Trump won the median House district by about 3.5 points. More than anything, though, Ossoff represented a vessel for the energy of progressives nationwide, something Speaker Paul Ryan noted in his congratulations to Handel. We can not forget that this was a Republican district and the results reflected typical voting patterns.

But deep down they know they needed - and still need - a win in a high-profile race in which the fight was between Trump/Republicans and Pelosi/Democrats. A seven point Ossoff advantage a month out from the election completely vanished by election day. All of which is why the result of the 6th's special election has to be seen as a catastrophe for Democrats.

Joe Webb, a Handel supporter from Marietta, wore a red "Make America Great Again" hat throughout Handel's victory party.

  • Larry Hoffman