Republican voters in Georgia’s special election have caught up to the hefty advantage that Democrats built in early voting, according to two elections analyses, and are poised to take the lead on Friday.
Democrat Jon Ossoff’s campaign for the suburban Atlanta district was buoyed by early numbers that gave left-leaning voters a sizable lead in the early voting. But that’s all but vanished as the Tuesday election nears and more early voting sites open.
One reason the Democratic voter numbers may have stalled: While Democrats appeared to quickly consolidate around Ossoff, the leading contender of five Democrats on the ballot, Republicans may have taken longer to choose between the 11 GOP contenders on the ballot.
Nate Cohn, the New York Times polling expert, tweeted that roughly 42 percent of the 46,000 or so early ballots cast are from Democratic-leaning voters, while Republican-leaning voters have cast 41 percent of the ballots. He predicted Republicans will take the lead on Friday, the final day of early voting.
That's in line with the analysis of Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political scientists who also crunched the numbers.
The early voting numbers are far from fool-proof, but they are considered an indicator of voter enthusiasm. And they could complicate Ossoff's goal of winning the race outright on Tuesday by getting a majority of the vote. In the mid-40s in most of the polls, the Democrat hopes a late push can close the gap.
Ossoff told students at Georgia Tech that his internal polling and early voting numbers show there's still an opening to win the 18-candidate race outright on Tuesday and avoid a head-to-head June 20 matchup against a Republican.
“The early voting numbers and our internal polling continue to demonstrate that this is winnable on Tuesday,” he said, “but it’s only winnable if we sprint through the finish line with more intensity, more passion and less sleep than any other campaign out there.”
More AJC coverage of the Sixth District race: