In their desperate effort to seek silver linings in Republican Karen Handel’s victory over Jon Ossoff in the special election Tuesday for a Georgia House seat, the media are quiet about one basic fact.
Handel beat Ossoff by 3.8 percentage points. In that same district just seven months ago Donald Trump bested Hillary Clinton by 1.5 points. In sum, the Democrats are not gaining ground in Districts like the 6th. They are losing it.
That is not how Ossoff and his pals in the major media choose to see things. Said Ossoff apocalyptically, “As darkness has crept across this planet, (you supporters) have provided a beacon of hope for people here in Georgia and people around the world. We showed the world that in places where no one thought it was even possible to fight, we could fight.”
If no one thought it was possible to fight, why did the Democrats raise some umpteen millions of dollars? They raised it because they knew a Trump proxy fight made sense in the state’s only congressional district that Trump did not carry in the primary and that he barely carried in the general.
As the relentlessly lopsided pounding from the media drove Trump’s favorability ratings lower and lower, the Democrats invested their millions because they thought they would win. They just needed 2 percent more of the voters come their way in June than came in November.
You would not have sensed this truism after the fact. “There are more than 70 districts more favorable to Democrats than this deep red district,” said Ben Ray Lujan, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, “and Ossoff’s close margin demonstrates the potential for us to compete deep into the battlefield.”
After the defeat, the media were also quick to make excuses. Here, for instance, is how CNN spun the loss: “It was a much closer margin than the 20-plus point wins typically posted by former Rep. Tom Price – whose departure to become Trump’s health and human services secretary created the vacancy.”
True, but incumbents almost always win especially as the opposition gets weaker with each loss.
Said the New York Daily News, “In the end, Jon Ossoff could not overcome the strongly Republican tilt of the electorate in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.”
Said NPR, “The longtime GOP lean of the district was too much for Ossoff to overcome. This is a seat Republicans have held for decades – former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had represented areas in the current 6th District.”
Said Salon, “No Democrat has held this seat in the northern Atlanta suburbs since 1979. In the last regular election in November 2016, Republican Tom Price, who is now the secretary of health and human services, was re-elected with 62 percent of the vote.”
Salon made the point that Trump fared relatively badly in this district because his populist style is “anathema with educated voters, of which the 6th District has many.”
The insinuation here is that educated people, even educated Republicans, are smart enough to reject Trump. The reality is that the rejection of Trump by this class of voters had less to do with education than with snobbery.
Across the country there were many districts like the 6th that supported Romney in 2012 but Clinton in 2016. These were almost all suburban districts with a class-conscious electorate.
There were many more that backed Obama in 2008 and even in 2012 that back Trump in 2016. These districts tended to be more blue-collar, less educated.
To date, Trump has done a solid job holding the base. The more respectable Republicans will vote the economy in 2018. For better or worse, almost nothing else will matter.
Media wishing to interview Jack Cashill, please contact [email protected].