With one week to go in the nation's most expensive congressional election in history, Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff are tied in the race to replace Tom Price, according to an exclusive new 11Alive poll conducted by Survey USA.
Ossoff, a Democrat, and Handel, a Republican, are tied at 47%, with 6% of voters undecided, in metro Atlanta's 6th congressional district race, a contest that has become a virtual must-win for both parties on June 20.
“The findings underscore the fact that this race really comes down to turnout,” said Emory political scientist Andra Gillespie. “Both campaigns need to get as many volunteers on the phones and out in neighborhoods reminding voters to turn out on Tuesday. The campaign that has the best organized get-out-the-vote operation will be the one who likely wins this race.”
Among the poll’s results, Ossoff leads by a 3-2 margin among voters under 50, and is 25 points ahead of Handel among residents who have lived in Georgia for 20 years or less.
Handel leads 3-2 among seniors and by a 2-to-1 margin among Georgians who have lived in the state for 30 or more years.
As of Friday, June 9, more than 75,000 early votes had been cast, according to the Georgia Secretary of State. Among those survey respondents who told SurveyUSA they have already voted, Ossoff leads by 19 points. Among those who said they had not returned a ballot but will do so before the deadline, Handel leads by 14 points.
Party lines are clearly evident in the poll’s results, with both candidates enjoying solid support from those who identify with their respective parties. Of those who voted for Donald Trump last year, 91% back Handel, while 94% of people who voted for Hillary Clinton, back Ossoff.
“At the end of the day, party identification is more predictive of vote choice than support for President Trump,” Gillespie said. “Overwhelming majorities of Democrats support Ossoff, and extremely large majorities of Republicans support Handel. A bright spot for Handel is that those who have a neutral opinion of Trump are more likely to support her by a margin of more than 3 to 1.”
Three weeks ago, an 11Alive/SurveyUSA poll had Ossoff 7 points ahead of Handel. This latest poll includes fewer high-school educated and fewer lower-income respondents than did the previous survey.
Voters who say health care is the most important issue in the contest back Ossoff by a 2 to 1 margin, while those who say tax reform is most important, back Handel 4 to 1.
The poll was conducted from June 7-11 and interviewed 700 registered voters -- 503 of whom were identified by SurveyUSA to have already voted in the runoff or to be certain to do so before the June 20 deadline.
The seat has been in GOP hands since 1978, having been held by such Republican stalwarts as Newt Gingrich and Johnny Isakson. Price, now President Trump's secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was easily reelected several times, but Trump himself carried the district over Hillary Clinton by less than two percentage points last November, fueling Democratic hopes that they can flip the district.
There have already been two special congressional elections since President Trump took office, and both were won by Republicans. Democrats hope a victory next Tuesday will fuel momentum for the 2018 midterm elections.
Here is a full rundown of the poll's findings:
If you were filling out your ballot in the runoff election for US House of Representatives today, who would you vote for?
- 47% Handel (R)
- 47% Ossoff (D)
- 6% Undecided
Which one of the following issues is most important to your vote? Health care? Tax Reform? Transportation? Or something else?
- 44% Health Care
- 25% Tax Reform
- 5% Transportation
- 25% Something Else
- 1% Not Sure
Are local property tax reassessments a major issue in your vote for Congress? A minor issue? Or not an issue at all?
- 21% Major Issue
- 40% Minor Issue
- 38% Not An Issue
- 1% Not Sure
Do television ads help when deciding how to vote? Do they make it more difficult? Or do they make no difference to you either way?
- 12% Help
- 9% Make It More Difficult
- 77% Make No Difference
- 2% Not Sure
Is your opinion of Donald Trump ... favorable? Unfavorable? Neutral? Or, do you have no opinion of Donald Trump?
- 34% Favorable
- 47% Unfavorable
- 14% Neutral
- 4% No Opinion
President Trump in a speech last month did not specifically mention article 5 of the NATO pact, which pledges that an attack on one NATO member is considered an attack on all members. Do you agree or disagree with the President's decision to not specifically mention article 5?
- 28% Agree
- 48% Disagree
- 24% Not Sure
Do you agree or disagree with President Trump's effort to restrict travel to the United States from certain countries?
- 46% Agree
- 49% Disagree
- 5% Not Sure
Do you agree or disagree with President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord?
- 39% Agree
- 54% Disagree
- 8% Not Sure