The nation’s electoral attention has turned to the 6th congressional district of Georgia, where the scramble is on to replace Tom Price, the Republican who left to join the Trump Administration. Press accounts focus on the possibility the seat will flip to the Democratic column, in light of last week’s squeaker in the Kansas by-election and in light of the strong showing of Democrat Jon Ossoff in the 6th CD contest.
A quick look at the numbers from 2016 show why Democratic hopes are so high today. Just look at the election returns from the general election last November, Although Price won his district with 60.6% of the vote, Trump carried Price’s district with only 47.7% to Clinton’s 47.5% of the vote. However, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson received the remaining 4.9%, which was slightly above his 3.1% total in the state as a whole.
Prognosticators ignore the Johnson vote at their peril. Leaving them out of the equation makes the district appear to be a 50/50 tossup that might very well go to a high-energy Democratic upstart. Including them as natural Republican voters in the special election makes the district more in the +5 “leans Republican” category.
A week ago, Democrats managed to increase their vote share in the Kansas 8th CD by 8 points over the November election. If the same holds true in the Georgia 6th, the district will flip, even accounting for the Libertarian vote in the district. And yet, I’m not discounting the Johnson vote when push comes to shove, should a run off occur.