ATLANTA – Voters head to the polls today to choose a new, 6th district congressional representative in a race that has the nation’s political world -- including the White House -- watching closely.
Polls are open from 7 am to 7 pm in the race to replace Tom Price, now President Donald Trump’s secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
A total of 18 candidates are seeking the job, making a June 20 runoff extremely likely.
However, Democrat Jon Ossoff, who has dominated the polls and fundraising numbers since the race virtually began, is aiming to win the race outright tonight.
11Alive will be carrying the results live as they come in tonight. In the meantime, here's what to watch for:
Expect Ossoff to do well in the south. That’s his geographic and demographic base; he lives near Emory, which lies just outside the district’s southern boundaries. His base, made up of younger and more diverse voters, is also concentrated there.
Expect Republicans Karen Handel and Bob Gray to carry the district’s central and northern communities. To his credit, Ossoff has canvassed every 6th district nook and cranny with the race’s strongest ground game, and he’ll need that investment to pay off for him Tuesday night. If it does, he might be able to pull off a win, but a large turnout from the district’s southern end will need to carry him to the finish line.
Expect a down-to-the-wire finish for the No. 2 slot, assuming Ossoff performs well. The Republican field is far too divided for any one candidate to win outright, or for even two Republicans to make a runoff. Ossoff’s campaign has been the most visible and energized of any candidate, and it’d be a shock for him to finish with less than 40 percent of the vote. Any weakness he shows on Tuesday is prime cannon fodder for an early summer runoff that is sure to be a war.
Expect a political earthquake if Ossoff wins outright. For a national party in disarray to pick off a since-1978 GOP stronghold, from a field of 18 candidates without a runoff, will make headlines around the nation.
Expect the sound of a huge, deflating balloon outside your window if Ossoff fails to finish first or second. Democrats are pinning their hopes for a 2018 midterm Congressional electoral revival on Ossoff. If he can’t make a runoff in a district that Donald Trump barely carried in 2016, it won’t bode well for a party that has suffered historic losses at the congressional, state and local levels over the last eight years.
Here’s what happened on the campaign’s final day:
President Trump himself recorded a robocall that went out to voters on Monday, urging them to vote Republican. He also sent out this tweet:
With eleven Republican candidates running in Georgia (on Tuesday) for Congress, a runoff will be a win. Vote "R" for lower taxes & safety!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2017
Roswell police are investigating an alleged theft of Jon Ossoff’s yard signs. A man was captured on video stuffing the Democrat’s yard signs in the trunk of a Ford Mustang. The video was posted on Facebook.
A new poll released Monday shows former Johns Creek city councilman Bob Gray edging fellow Republican Karen Handel for the No. 2 finish behind Ossoff, who has dominated the race in fundraising and polling almost since the campaign began.
President Donald Trump weighed in on Ossoff’s candidacy, a campaign in which the 30-year-old, first-time candidate is leading in fundraising and polling.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed also weighed in on the race. "The people in the 6th District will ultimately make that decision," Reed said, speaking to MSNBC anchor Kris Jansing about the race. "Not you, and not me."
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who has endorsed state Sen. Judson Hill, recorded a robocall for Hill that went out to voters on Monday.
Meanwhile, President Trump’s Georgia chairman Rayna Casey endorsed former Secretary of State Karen Handel.