In a tweet, the pollster celebrated the numbers as good news for the first-time Democratic candidate.
But Republicans, surprised by their underdog status in a seat that has been deep red for more than 30 years, are encouraged by any sign of Handel consolidating votes. She has not nabbed the endorsement of Dan Moody, a former legislator who ran fourth in the primary, but she enjoyed a burst of donations after the first round and a burst of attention when President Trump arrived in Atlanta for the National Rifle Association of America conference and a fundraiser.
“You’d better win,” the president joked to Handel, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Heading into the runoff’s third week, Handel also had the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which went on the air with a TV ad attacking the Democrat as a “Hollywood” candidate, a theme in ads from the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is aligned with Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).
But none of that has budged the numbers in the Ossoff-Handel showdown. In polls taken before April 18 that asked about a hypothetical runoff, Ossoff either trailed Handel or led by one or two points. But polls underrated Ossoff’s first-round vote total. The final pre-primary surveys put Ossoff’s runoff vote projection at 42 percent; he outperformed that and came within a few thousand votes of outright victory. The final pre-election poll, conducted by Opinion Savvy, found Ossoff and fringe Democrats getting 42.1 percent of the total district vote; on Election Day, the party’s candidates won 49 percent of the vote.