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June 20, 2017

Georgia special election may be a bellwether of Trump-era politics

Update: Republican Karen Handel won the special election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district by 4 points over Democrat Jon Ossoff on June 20.

    • A special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional district will be held on June 20 to fill the seat vacated by current Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price. The seat has historically been Republican-controlled, and was held by Rep. Newt Gingrich for 20 years.
    • The race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel has become competitive due to a combination of division over the Trump presidency and significant early-voter turnout, including many first time voters.
    • If the election is won by Ossoff, Democrats will likely interpret it as a sign that they can flip more previously non-competitive seats in the midterm elections in 2018. If Handel wins, Republicans will likely claim that dissatisfaction with the Trump presidency does not translate into action at the ballot box.
    • The election has received large amounts of media attention from both sides of the political aisle. As a result, it has become the most expensive Congressional race in U.S. history, exceeding $50 million in total.

  1. Essential question: How will the Trump presidency affect Congressional elections over the next four years?
  2. Georgia GOP officials have said that the shooting of Majority Whip Steve Scalise in Alexandria, Virginia will swing the election in their favor. Do you agree? Explain.
  3. To what extent is the Trump presidency a factor in this election? Should Congressional elections be based more on national or local politics? Explain.
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