Republican Jason Chaffetz of Utah's 3rd congressional district resigned from Congress Friday morning. The five-term Representative, who was chairman of the House Oversight Committee announced back in April that he would not run again. That was then followed up by the decision to leave Congress before the end of his term. Chaffetz will join Fox News as a commentator. A special election will take place on November 7th. The seat is very likely to remain in Republican hands.
Republicans now have 240 House seats to 193 for Democrats. In addition to Chaffetz's seat, California's 34th District is currently vacant. Democrat Jimmy Gomez won a special election for that seat earlier in June and is expected to be sworn-in on July 11th.
Republicans Karen Handel (GA-06) and Ralph Norman (SC-05) were sworn-in and joined the House of Representatives on Monday. Both won their seats in special elections held on June 20th. This brings Republicans back to full strength, at 241 seats. Democrats currently hold 193 seats.
The one remaining House vacancy will be filled when Democrat Jimmy Gomez takes his seat for California's 34th District. That is expected to take place after the 4th of July recess.
Republican control, at 241-194 seats after Gomez is sworn-in, will match where the 115th Congress began back in January. All five special elections held during the first half of the year were held by the incumbent party.
2018 Ratings Changes
Prior to the Georgia and South Carolina special elections, those seats were rated toss-up and likely Republican, respectively. Looking ahead to 2018, those seats are now rated as lean and safe Republican, respectively. (Ratings courtesy of Sabato's Crystal Ball).
As of now, about 70 of the 435 House seats look like they could be somewhat competitive in 2018. Democrats will need to gain 24 seats to take control.
While the Georgia race drew far more attention, and became the most expensive House race in U.S. history, the Republican margin of victory there was actually slightly larger than in the South Carolina race. Handel won by 3.8%, while Norman won by 3.2%.
This completes a series of four races for seats vacated by Republicans who left to join the Trump Administration. All four seats were held by that party. A fifth 2017 vacancy, created when a Democrat became California's Attorney General, was held by that party.
Once all the winners are sworn in, Republicans will again hold a 241-194 majority in the House. Democrats will need to gain 24 seats in the 2018 midterm elections to wrest control from the GOP. At this very early point, the analysts at Sabato's Crystal Ball see Democrats picking up somes seats, but falling short of that objective.
For today's special elections in Georgia and South Carolina, we're pleased to include links to the live results as reported by Decision Desk HQ. This is a mostly volunteer-driven alternative to the Associated Press (AP), whose counts and projections are used by the vast majority of media organizations. Decision Desk places reporters on the ground in each county to relay returns from local election officials. This information is combined with results published on the web by the state division overseeing elections. The goal of this combined effort is to get vote totals and projections out quickly and accurately.
Below are the live results for both districts as reported by Decision Desk HQ. We've also included a link to the AP counts as reported by The New York Times.
Congressional special elections are being held today in Georgia's 6th district as well as the 5th district in neighboring South Carolina. The two seats have been vacant since the prior incumbents resigned to join President Donald Trump's administration. Polls in both states are open until 7PM, Eastern Time.
Georgia 6th District
This race that has garnered national attention, becoming the most expensive House election in U.S. history along the way. The district has been in Republican hands since a young history teacher named Newt Gingrich won the seat in 1978. Incumbent Tom Price, now Secretary of Health and Human Services, was reelected with a 23% margin last November. However, Trump only won the district by 1.5%. This dichotomy set the stage for this race to become a proxy battle for the nation's political divisions and the early performance of full Republican control in Washington.
A non-partisan primary was held on April 18th. Since no candidate achieved 50%, the top-two have advanced to today's runoff. Polling shows an extremely tight race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel. Ossoff has a 1.4% lead in the 270toWin Polling Average. However, the most recent polls show it may be even closer than that. A new poll out overnight from Landmark Communications showed the race tied.
More than 140,000 people have voted early in this election, 25% of the district's registered voters. This includes over 36,000 who did not vote in the April primary.
South Carolina's 5th District (Frank Underwood's District in House of Cards)
Today's election fills the seat previously held by Mick Mulvaney, now Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Republican Ralph Norman faces off against Democrat Archie Parnell. Several 3rd party candidates are also on the ballot. Democrats held this seat for over 125 years until Mulvaney was elected in 2010. He won reelection by 20 points in 2016, similar to Price's margin in Georgia. However, Trump won here by over 18%, a larger spread than Mitt Romney in 2012. As a result, the race here hasn't received nearly the same level of attention as the battle in Georgia.
There's been little polling here. Democrats don't expect to win the race, but, as the Wall Street Journal reports, "they are hoping to learn important lessons about what motivates African-American turnout in the Trump era. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is conducting a series of tests to determine what anti-Trump messages work best to motivate black voters to vote for Democratic candidates ahead of the 2018 midterm elections."
There are currently four vacancies in the House of Representatives, where Republicans have a 238 to 193 majority. Democrat Jimmy Gomez won a recent special election in California's 34th district, while Republican Greg Gianforte won the election for Montana's at-large district. Both are expected to be sworn-in this month, bringing the total to 239-194.
Today's special elections will fill the remaining two vacancies. All 435 seats will be contested in the 2018 Midterm Elections. Create your own forecast with the Interactive 2018 House Map.
In what we assume is the final poll to be released in advance of Tuesday's special election, Karen Handel leads Jon Ossoff by 50% to 49%. The poll was released by Trafalgar Group, who showed Ossoff with a three-point lead in their prior survey on June 15th. Although well within the margin of error, this is the first survey showing a lead for Handel since early May.
Ossoff leads by 1.8% in the polling average, although that falls to under 1% if we just look at the most recent polls. While it is distasteful to put it in political terms, there is a possibility that last week's shooting at a Republican baseball practice may be creating additional support for Handel. In a race this close, it could have an impact.
Ultimately, the race will come down to Election Day turnout. The polls are open from 7AM to 7PM on Tuesday.
Two new polls released Friday indicate Tuesday's special election in Georgia's 6th district continues to be a nail-biter. While Jon Ossoff is at 50% and has a small lead over Karen Handel in both surveys, the spread is narrower than in several other recent polls.
Landmark Communications gave Ossoff a two-point margin over Handel, 50% to 48%. The last Landmark survey, from June 8th, was 50% to 47% for Ossoff. Meanwhile, Opinion Savvy showed Ossoff with just a one-point lead, 50% to 49%.
The overall polling average is now Ossoff +2.6%. Ultimately, however, the race will come down to Election Day turnout. Both surveys showed Ossoff with a wide lead among early voters, with Handel expected to fare much better on Tuesday.
John Ossoff leads Karen Handel by 3 points in the latest poll of next Tuesday's special election runoff in Georgia's 6th Congressional District. The poll, conducted by Trafalgar Group, surveyed 1,100 likely voters with a 2.9% margin of error. Ossoff saw 50% support in the survey vs. 47% for Handel.
The 3 point Ossoff is consistent with the 270toWin polling average for the race.
Atlanta's 11Alive reports that "with one week to go in the nation's most expensive congressional election in history, Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff are tied in the race to replace Tom Price..." The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, has both candidates at 47%, with 6% undecided. This result is a notable improvement for Handel from an Abt Associates poll of the race from late last week, as well as the last SurveyUSA poll of the race three weeks ago. Both those showed Ossoff up by seven points.
Aside from the two results referenced above, most polls for this race have shown what today's does: For all the money poured into this special election, it remains a toss-up heading into the runoff next Tuesday. An average of the most recent survey by each of the four firms that have polled the race since May 1st gives Ossoff a three point lead.
Early and absentee voting is underway. As of June 9th, 75,000 early votes had been cast. On the 20th, polling places in the 6th congressional district will be open from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM.
Democrat Jon Ossoff leads by 7 points over Republican Karen Handel in the latest poll for Georgia's 6th district special election. The poll, conducted by Abt Associates for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, surveyed 1,000 registered voters. Ossoff's 51-44 lead is among a subset of 745 likely voters.
Ossoff's advantage may be in the poll's finding that "he’s capturing about 13 percent of Republican voters and 50 percent of independents – a crucial voting bloc that typically leans right in the state. It shows almost no cross-over on the flip side; only 3 percent of Democrats say they’re backing Handel. He gets support from 44 percent of white voters, a big number for a Democrat in Georgia."
Most polling for this race has shown Ossoff leading, but with a much smaller margin. On Thursday, a poll from WSB and Landmark Communications gave Ossoff a lead of about 2.5%. It is also worth noting that today's release was a survey of registered voters, while other polls have been among likely voters.
The race will be decided at the polls on Tuesday, June 20.