A new poll shows Republicans could be in deep trouble in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, thanks to Donald Trump's unpopularity and Democrat Jon Ossoff's impressive campaign. All of which has prompted Karen Handel to finally get serious about the debates.
The past couple of weeks in the runoff for Georgia's 6th Congressional District have seen continued escalation between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel.
Democrats are increasingly hopeful that Ossoff, a charismatic young filmmaker and former congressional staffer, can flip a district that has been red for nearly 40 years.
Republicans, for their part, are frantically trying to shore up Handel, a perennial failed candidate who championed voter suppression, tried to cut off Susan G. Komen for the Cure's grants for cancer screening at Planned Parenthood, and blindly cheerleads for Trump on nearly every issue.
This special election has now become the most expensive congressional race in history. The Democratic National Committee is pouring money into field operations for Ossoff, and Vice President Mike Pence has announced he will personally campaign for Handel in Georgia.
But one area of standoff between the candidates has been the debate schedule.
Soon after winning the first round, Ossoff called for six debates with Handel. Although Handel initially accepted, she withdrew from the first debate after learning it was open to the public. Now, at last, she has finally agreed to a hard date: June 6 at 8:00 PM ET on WSB-TV Channel 2.
One possible explanation for her sudden interest might be a new poll showing some very bad news for her.
According to SurveyUSA, Ossoff now leads Handel 51 to 44 with likely and actual voters — the first poll showing him with a lead outside the margin of error. Among independents, Ossoff leads 57 to 37. Even one in five voters who backed Republican Tom Price for this seat now support Ossoff.
In another blow for Handel, the poll also asked voters if they cared whether Ossoff had moved 1.5 miles outside the district to support his girlfriend through medical school, something Republicans have been trying to make into a scandal. Only 27 percent of voters considered it a "major issue." Handel can, at least, take solace in the fact that voters also did not seem to care much that she has no college degree.
It is clear that Republicans are not happy with where this race is heading and are desperate to shake things up. Ossoff and his Democratic supporters should waste no time in pressing every advantage they have.