On early Wednesday morning, Jon Ossoff, a Democratic candidate for Georgia's 6th Congressional District, just barely missed winning the seat, falling slightly short of 50 percent of the vote. However a runoff election in June will give Ossoff another opportunity to contend for the seat once again.
A runoff election occurs when no candidate secures a majority — that is, when no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote. In the case of Georgia's special election for the 6th District seat, Ossoff received 48.1 percent of the vote, meaning he will face the contender who received the next highest percentage of the vote (Republican Karen Handel at 19.8 percent) in a two-candidate runoff election in June.
Even though the election is going to a runoff, prospects still look promising for an Ossoff victory. The special election, which was held after Rep. Tom Price was selected by Donald Trump to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services, has received an inordinate amount of attention. This attention stems from the fact that the results of the election could serve as a proclamation on the status of the Trump administration.
Georgia's Sixth Congressional District has historically consistently elected Republican candidates. Indeed, no Democrat has represented the district since the Carter administration. A Democratic victory in the district would be unprecedented and speak volumes about how the public views Trump's presidency and the Republican party. Indeed, if Ossoff wins, Republicans may start to distance themselves from Trump, as his potential victory could indicate that the president's reputation is harming the GOP's prospects for midterm Congressional elections. And based on the fact that Trump himself has tweeted about the election, it's clear that this is a big deal.
Ossoff and many of his supporters considered Wednesday's results a promising indicator for the Democratic party's prospects in 2018 midterm elections, even in long-held Republican districts. Despite the impending runoff election, Ossoff characterized Tuesday's first round race as a victory, saying, "This is already a remarkable victory. We defied the odds, shattered expectations, and now are ready to fight on and win in June."
The New York Times reported that while it is unclear whether Ossoff will be able to sustain the momentous support he experienced for the first round of the special election, there certainly exists a possibility that he could win the runoff election, particularly because his strong showing has encouraged the Democratic Party to continue to fervently support his candidacy and provide him with continued funding.
It seems clear that all eyes will be on the upcoming runoff election between Ossoff and Handel in June. The results of this election could very much be indicative of how the country will vote in the 2018 midterm elections (and beyond) and it will certainly capture a great deal of attention.