Tuesday’s special election in Georgia’s 6th District — featuring Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel — is the culmination of the most expensive congressional race of all time. Picking up the seat vacated by Republican Tom Price when he was appointed to head the Department of Health and Human Services would be a major accomplishment for Democrats. Republicans obviously want to hold the seat, but even more, they need a decisive victory to stem the perception that they are heading into a very difficult 2018 midterm.
Current polls have the race neck-and-neck.
To help turn those polls — and other information about the race — into a forecast, we can turn to the State of the Union forecasting tournament that we have been running with the folks at Good Judgment.
Over the past 10 days, there have been almost 150 forecasts for this race. The current estimate is that it’s very close, with a 55 percent chance for Ossoff and 45 percent for Handel. That is essentially a coin flip. The narrowing of the forecast during this period mirrors the narrowing in the polls.
So this forecast confirms what most poll-watchers will tell you: Neither Ossoff nor Handel has a clear advantage.
One thing to keep in mind: The outcome is of course important, but it’s not the only important thing. Even a narrow Democratic loss would send encouraging signals for the party’s fortunes in the 2018 midterms. And, as Nate Silver rightly noted, the key is really how the two parties interpret the outcome, no matter who wins, and what decisions those interpretations lead them to make.