Can A Democrat Win In GA-06? Let's Look At Lindsey Graham's Clemson Town Hall
Minutes ago CNN released a new poll showing 45% of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling his job and 52% disapprove. 65% of Americans feel there is a need for an independent special prosecutor to be appointed to get to the bottom of Putin-Gate and 32% feel the Republican-controlled is capable of handling it. There is no state or even regional breakdown, so we don't know how people feel about Trump and Putin-Gate in either up-country South Carolina or in the Atlanta suburbs. Clemson, South Carolina is a small up-country South Carolina city (population is around 15,000) where Pickens, Anderson and Oconee counties meet in the deeply red northwest corner of the state. When Lindsey Graham did his town hall there Saturday morning, over a thousand people turned up, presumably from all three counties. In 2012, Romney swept all three counties-- Anderson with 67% of the vote, Oconee with 70% and Pickens with 73%. Trump did even better:
• Anderson- 70%This is Graham's home district. His first public office was as a state Rep. from Oconee County. Two years later, the longtime Democratic congressman from the area, Butler Derrick, retired and Graham won the seat, the first Republican to represent the district since 1877. He left the House and was elected to the Senate when Strom Thurmond retired in 2002. In 2014, he faced Democrat Brad Hutto and beat him 54.5-38.9%. But in the Clemson area counties he ran up tremendous margins-- 73.4% in Oconee, 67.1% in Anderson and 71.1% in Pickens. But, as you can see in the CNN video above, he didn't get the friendliest of welcomes when he started talking about supporting Trump.
• Oconee- 72%
• Pickens- 74%
The town hall didn't get off to a bad start for Graham though. In the clip below it kind of looks and sounds like a Saturday Night Live skit, and the audience was into being entertained by the subtle inferences that the president is a crackpot and/or a criminal. Had Graham read the room better, he would have stuck with that kind of attitude and not wandered into territory at odds with most Americans, earning hoots cat-calls and loud boos. People keep asking me if Jon Ossoff really has a shot in the suburban Atlanta district that Tom Price abandoned to be Trump's point person for dismantling the American health care system.
People make a big deal out of the fact that though Mitt Romney cleaned Obama's clock in GA-06-- 61-37%-- Trump barely managed to win the district at all, scraping through 48.3% to 46.8%. Although Trump won Georgia in the Republican primary,he lost all 3 of the counties that make up GA-06. Republican voters there went for Rubio-- by a lot. These are the Rubio vs Trump margins in those 3 counties:
• Fulton Co.- 41.6-21.6%Takeaway is obvious; traditionally Republican voters-- this is Newt Gingrich's old district-- aren't impressed by Señor Trumpanzee and have been willing to express that at the polls. Does that mean a progressive Democrat-- backed by John Lewis-- can win against a traditional Georgia Republican? Maybe. Polling shows Ossoff ahead in the April 18 jungle primary which will lead to a June 20 runoff with whichever Republican come sin second. Almost a dozen Republicans are running, including 2 former state Senators (Dan Moody and Judson Hill, who has been endorsed by Gingrich), a very well-know and very controversial former Secretary of State (anti-Choice fanatic Karen Handel) and a close Trump associate (businessman Bruce LeVell). Were LeVell to win the primary-- a very unlikely outcome-- Ossoff would have almost no problem winning the runoff. Two weeks ago a Republican polling firm, Clout Research showed Ossoff ahead with 32% but had Handel coming in second with 25%. LeVell was in margin-of-error territory with just 1%.
• Cobb Co.- 34.6-31.0%
• DeKalb Co.- 41.2-25.2%
Ossoff's path to victory looks best if he can paint the election as a referendum on Trump. When Lindsey Graham was doing that in his Clemson town hall over the weekend, he was doing fine but as soon as he started speaking well of Trump, the crowd got hostile and loud. If the DCCC can turn the GA-06 race into a referendum on Trump, they can help Ossoff win... even if he'll them be the most vulnerable reelection candidate in Congress. GA-06 won't turn blue but it could vote against Trump and Trumpism. (You can contribute to Ossoff's campaign here.)