Democrat Jon Ossoff just missed outright victory in a key special election held in Georgia on Tuesday. Ossoff was making an attempt to capitalize on a low point in Republican perception to snag a House seat for a historically conservative area. Ossoff received 48.1% of the vote, with second place held by Republican Karen Handel, who won 19.8% of the vote. However, because this was a special election, 50% of the vote was needed to win the election outright. Because Ossoff just missed that mark, he and Handel will now have to face off in a runoff election in June. Ossoff took the result in stride, and expressed optimism for the June runoff: “This is already a victory for the ages. That no matter what the outcome is tonight, whether we take it all or whether we fight on, we have survived the odds. We have shattered expectations… And your voices are going to ring out across the state and across the country.”
This comes as bad news for Democrats, who had hoped to flip the seat. The Democratic Party rallied behind Ossoff because there were five Republican candidates running for the seat, and the party thought that a consolidation behind one candidate could result in an upset. Now that it will a classic race between Ossoff and Handel, the chances for Democrats to take the seat are greatly diminished.
The seat was open because its former holder, Representative Tom Price, was named Health and Human Services Secretary by President Donald Trump. Price, a Republican, won the 2016 election in this district with 62%, and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the district in the national election by 23 percentage points, highlighting how Republican-heavy the area is.
Ossoff is a 30-year-old congressional staffer relatively new to the world of politics. He was supported heavily by liberal media such as Daily Kos in hopes that it would send a message of disapproval to the Trump administration. Trump himself poked at Ossoff on Twitter and wrote “Glad to be of help!” once the result was announced, although analysts say the race was close in the first place because of Trump’s unpopularity in the area.