Nate Silver (see "Why The Georgia Special Election Matters") says the special election in Georgia's 6th CD is too close to call. Some models see Republican Karen Handel winning by a couple points, while recent polls have spooky, centrist Democrat wunderkind Jon Ossoff up by a couple points.
Silver susses it all out exhaustively. I think he is correct when he says that the prime motivation for the GOP to repeal Obamacare will be lost with an Ossoff win:
As I said, however, the vote comes at a critical time for Republicans — and extracting any signal at all from Georgia might be enough to influence their behavior. Republicans really are in a pickle on health care. The AHCA is so unpopular that they’d have been better off politically letting it die back in March, at least in my view. But I don’t have a vote in Congress and Republicans do, and they’ve tallied the costs and benefits differently, given that the bill has already passed the House and is very much alive in the Senate. The central political argument Republicans have advanced on behalf of the bill is that failing to pass it would constitute a broken promise to repeal Obamacare, demotivating the GOP base. That argument will lose credibility if a Democrat wins in a traditionally Republican district despite what looks as though it will be high turnout.McConnell can lose two GOP votes and still pass Trumpcare. Pence would break a 50-50 tie. The reporting done recently, as the Senate has pieced together its repeal of the Affordable Care Act in private, has focused on what the American Health Care Act is really all about -- not just abolishing Obamacare but destroying the Great Society's Medicaid.
To get Trumpcare through the Senate, McConnell is going to have to win the votes of Republican Senators from Medicaid-dependent states like Ohio (Rob Portman) and West Virginia (Shelley Capito) without losing troglodytes like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are likely already lost to McConnell, which means that the future of Medicaid could come down to a guy like Colorado's Cory Gardner, a mediocrity who edged out incumbent Mark Udall by a mere two points in 2014.
Gardner knows that a vote for Trumpcare will likely end his Senate career. So I'm sure he will be watching with rapt attention the returns from Georgia tomorrow. If a carpetbagging flim-flammer like Ossoff can ride into Newt's old stomping ground on a flying carpet of out-of-state cash and win, then the Republicans are going to be running scared.
Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns writing in "High-Stakes Referendum on Trump Takes Shape in a Georgia Special Election" see the dam about to burst:
“It’s a race that we have to win,” said State Senator Brandon Beach, a Republican whose district includes part of the terrain being fought on here.
Republican officials worry that if Mr. Ossoff wins, it would send a resounding statement about the intensity of the backlash to Mr. Trump, prompting incumbents to think twice about running for re-election, slowing fund-raising and, most significantly, further imperiling their already-stalemated legislative agenda.
“It’s not just symbolic — we really can’t afford to lose any seats at this point,” said Representative Tom Rooney, Republican of Florida, noting that “the factions” among congressional Republicans make their majorities more tenuous in practice than they may seem on paper.
In a district that was once nobody’s idea of “swing,” the parties themselves have elevated the stakes. The two candidates and outside groups have now spent more than $51 million.In any event, Medicaid needs to be protected at all costs. Without a fully-funded Medicaid, or with a block-granted Medicaid, our whole system of elder care (think nursing homes) is in danger. That's why I hope Ossoff wins tomorrow.