Can we bring “sharing”
into the sharing economy?

By Greg Jaros

JUNE 19

Democrat Jon Ossoff fell just short in his bid to capture the seat representing Georgia’s 6th Congressional District in a first-round knockout. Polls show a tight race, but it looks like he might have better luck in next week’s decisive Round 2.

The June 20 runoff in the Georgia 6 special congressional election pits Ossoff, a former congressional aide, against Republican Karen Handel, Georgia’s former secretary of state. In the first round April 18, Ossoff won 48 percent of the vote, far more than any of the other 17 candidates but short of the 50 percent he would have needed to win outright. (Georgia uses a so-called jungle primary, in which all candidates regardless of party affiliation run against each other.) Handel came in second with 20 percent of the vote, earning the right to face Ossoff in the runoff.

Ossoff was hovering around a majority ahead of the primary, and the same is true now. But there is a key difference: Polls now show that he is expected to receive just over 50 percent of the vote on June 20; he polled just under 50 percent in the primary on average.Ossoff has held a small lead over Handel in runoff surveys, and it appears to be widening.

Whereas Ossoff was ahead by less than 1 point in an average of polls taken in March (before the primary, but after Handel emerged as the leading Republican candidate), he was ahead by an average of 5 points in the two polls with an end date in June. Crucially, the June polls show Ossoff winning 51 percent of the vote, or 53 percent when undecided voters are allocated proportionally. In the three weeks leading up to the primary, he averaged just 42 percent of the vote, or 46 percent once undecideds were allocated. Put another way, a Round 1 win for Ossoff would have meant the polls had underestimated him. In the runoff, he appears to be in good shape unless the polls are overestimating him.

The race remains too close to call. Ossoff’s lead is slim, especially given the past accuracy of special House election polling, and we simply don’t know what to expect voter turnout to be in Round 2 compared with Round 1. Still, it’s significant that Ossoff has maintained and even widened his lead as voters make up their minds, because it suggests that undecided voters aren’t overwhelmingly Republican. It’s possible that Handel will pick up the vast majority of the remaining undecided voters in the campaign’s final days, but there’s no reason to expect that to happen.

Ossoff’s small lead in Round 2 shouldn’t be too surprising because it’s exactly what the polls before Round 1 indicated might happen. Yes, the Republican candidates combined to beat the Democratic candidates by a 51 percent to 49 percent margin, which in theory means that, holding turnout steady, Handel will win if she can hold onto the Republican voters from Round 1. Before the primary, though, five polls suggested that was unlikely.