Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

A worry for Jon Ossoff in the Sixth: Will black voters show up?

The folks at fivethirtyeight.com have kindly provided Jon Ossoff, the Democrat in Georgia’s Sixth District race, something to worry about: The continuation of a post-Obama depression in turnout among African-Americans:

In 2016, turnout among whites was up across the country, and in highly educated areas like the 6th District in the suburbs of Atlanta. This redounded to Democrats’ advantage. At the same time, black turnout was down precipitously, from 66 percent in 2012 to 59 percent in 2016.


This black-white turnout gap continued in the first round of Georgia’s special election, where the Democrats got impressive turnout levels from all races and ethnicities — except African-Americans.

The Sixth is divided among three counties: Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb. Black voters are most numerous in DeKalb, where they make up 16 percent of that part of the Sixth. African-Americans make up 12 percent of voters in the Fulton-Sixth. (These stats don’t figure in several thousand new voters recently allowed to register for the contest.)


On Tuesday, in a grilling by CNN's Chris Cuomo, Democrat Jon Ossoff stuck to a now-familiar theme when he was asked if he views the Sixth District vote as a referendum on Donald Trump.

"I prefer to think about what I'm running for," he said. "What I'm running for is greater accountability in Washington, the ability to work across the aisle to get things done that will develop metro Atlanta's regional economy so we can become an economic powerhouse."

We've noted before how Ossoff has dropped the "make Trump furious" rhetoric he relied on early in his campaign, and has let others make the anti-Trump attacks. And that's exactly what's happening, as seen in a fresh batch of mailers readers sent our way late Tuesday, courtesy of the Democratic Party of Georgia.

Take a look for yourself:

Even as Democrats continue to hit Republican Karen Handel for accepting cash from a fundraiser highlighted by President Donald Trump, Republicans continue to hit Ossoff on the flood of out-of-state donations that have buoyed his campaign.

That's the portion of yesterday's CNN interview that the Republican National Committee preferred to highlight:


Seven months later, the New York Times has an excellent piece on what went wrong in last year’s polling of the presidential contest between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump:

At least three key types of error have emerged as likely contributors to the pro-Clinton bias in pre-election surveys. Undecided voters broke for Mr. Trump in the final days of the race, or in the voting booth. Turnout among Mr. Trump’s supporters was somewhat higher than expected. And state polls, in particular, understated Mr. Trump’s support in the decisive Rust Belt region, in part because those surveys did not adjust for the educational composition of the electorate — a key to the 2016 race.

It’s this last point that gets the most attention in the NYT piece. Education level had never been a determining factor in a presidential contest before. And so pollsters didn’t allow for it.


Saturday will bring an end to the contest for chairmanship of the Georgia GOP, when statewide delegates gather in Augusta. Alex Johnson, one of four candidates for the post, is attempting to up his share of the vote with a delegate raffle. From Johnson's note to Republican colleagues:

Thanks to generous donations of money and prizes from many donors, will have a prize giveaway open to all GA GOP Delegates and Alternates.  Prizes include a 9mm handgun, an AR-15 rifle, a 55" Sony Ultra 4K Smart TV, and lots of TRUMP and GOP swag including MAGA hats and inaugural coins, even some vintage Reagan/Bush stuff among the dozens of other prizes.


Political strategist Tharon Johnson announced a new bipartisan shop on Wednesday with plans to plunge back into campaign politics while also keeping one foot in the lobbying business.

Johnson, who led Kasim Reed’s  successful bid for Atlanta mayor in 2009 and was President Barack Obama's 2012 southern regional director, said his new firm -- the Paramount Consulting Group -- will give him a “better platform” to help both Democrats and Republicans.

“I’m passionate about public policy, advocacy and politics,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for me to put my years of experience on the local and national stage to work for a diverse set of clients.”

Johnson previously was among a trio of three well-known operatives who left mega-firm Dentons in 2015 to start Greenberg Traurig’s governmental affairs practice. His new company will focus on lobbying, media relations, and other services.

Johnson is a prominent voice in Georgia political circles. He briefly flirted with a bid to lead the state Democratic Party in 2015. Aside from his roles in campaigns for Reed and Obama, Johnson also has worked as a campaign consultant to U.S. Rep. John Lewis and DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond.


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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.