By Jim Ellis
April 17, 2017 — With the KS-4 special election just concluding last week, we now turn our attention to the imminent Georgia congressional primary. Voters in the northern Atlanta suburbs head to the polls for next week’s much-anticipated electoral contest scheduled for Tuesday, April 18.
While the hot early polling pace has seemingly dissipated for an election that will eventually produce a replacement for Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price in his vacated congressional district, the RHH Elections firm just released a fresh set of numbers.
Once more, however, we are examining a methodologically flawed survey, but the polling conclusion again proves consistent with other previously released data.
RHH Elections – identified as a group of eight unnamed lobbyists who are conducting an independent poll for this race – uses a combination of survey methods, neither of which included personal interviews with the individual respondents. The RHH survey (April 5-10; 321 likely GA-6 voters; 75 percent IVR; 25 percent online respondents) was conducted questioning participants through an interactive voice response system supplemented with online responses. Therefore, the sample’s error factor is a serious issue, and likely greater than the 5 percent estimated in the pollsters’ analysis.
Additionally, like all other GA-6 polls before them, save the late March Opinion Savvy Fox5 survey, the pollsters do not list all of the candidates who voters will see on the ballot. This latest poll provides only the one Democratic option, investigative filmmaker Jon Ossoff, even though five of the 18 candidates are running under that same party label.
Such being the case, the RHH polling result finds Democrat Ossoff leading the pack of candidates with 39 percent preference, followed by former Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) who posts 15 percent, businessman and local city Councilman Bob Gray (R) notching 12 percent, former state Sen. Dan Moody (R) recording 11 percent, with state Sen. Judson Hill (R) remaining in striking distance around the 10 percent support level.
Democrats were spinning the early story that Ossoff had the potential of winning without a run-off. The RHH poll, like all the others, gives virtually no support to such a possibility. This study now finds Ossoff dropping below 40 percent, but continues to record the leading Democrat in a consistent support range. And, as most of the previous data has shown, adding together the Republican preference against the Ossoff support percentage again shows the combined GOP number exceeding the consensus Democrat’s position.
With 18 candidates on the ballot, and Ossoff clearly having the strongest support base, there is little disagreement in concluding that he will finish first on Tuesday night. The question is, which Republican advances to the June 20 run-off along with him. Since every poll has shown the GOP candidates closely bunched, it is still anybody’s race for the second qualifying position.
After a brief foray into attempting to make Ossoff look foolish by running ads showing him wearing a Star Wars character costume while in college – an approach that netted virtually no positive impact for the GOP – the party is now attacking Ossoff as a liberal, a House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi supporter, and a candidate who does not live in the particular district that he hopes to represent.
This latter set of attacks seem to be bearing fruit, as Ossoff’s numbers appear trending a bit downward instead of ascending, as he must if he is to capture the seat outright on Tuesday.
The GOP’s negative attacks are designed to contain Ossoff below the 50 percent mark, thus forcing him into a run-off against a single Republican in an unfavorable district (for Democrats). Once accomplished, the political balance returns to the GOP’s favor. In a one-on-one format, we can expect a heavy media comparison barrage, with the goal of moving Ossoff further left and away from the district’s voting mainstream. If successful, the Republicans will be able to turn back the Ossoff onslaught, despite the $8.3 million the Democratic contender has raised for this campaign.