What "Flip the 6th" Means and Why Donald Trump is Melting Down About It

April 18th 2017

Mike Rothschild

A spate of 2017 special elections have been seen as a litmus test for the resistance to Donald Trump's presidency, and none have been more scrutinized than Georgia's 6th Congressional District. The hashtag #FlipThe6th has taken over Twitter, and the race is attracting the kind of attention that high-profile House races got in 2016.

The 30-year-old Democrat Jon Ossoff, a documentary filmmaker and former Congressional staffer, has leapt into the national consciousness as a contender to replace new Secretary of Health and Human Service Tom Price, who joined the Trump cabinet. Ossoff is facing 11 different Republicans (and several other Democrats) in a "jungle primary" for the suburban Atlanta district.

If no candidate gets 50 percent +1 of the vote, the top two vote-getters proceed to a runoff in June. While Price carried the seat by 23 points in 2016 and 32 in 2014, Trump only won it by one point during the 2016 election.

The unique combination of the district's, Trump apathy, and the chaotic Republican field has turned the Georgia 6th into what many pundits believe is a field test for how Democrats will do in the 2018 midterms. And the support for Ossoff's campaign has been enormous, fueled by Democrats looking to channel their anger and frustration over Trump into electoral results.

According to NPR, Ossoff had raised over $8.3 million from local and national donors, which is just part of the massive haul of out-of-state money the election has seen. Ossoff's campaign has also been deluged by volunteers and celebrity endorsements, with Samuel L. Jackson recording an anti-Trump robocall, and actors Alyssa Milano and Christopher Gorham volunteering to drive voters to the polls.

The Republican field has its support scattered among four candidates, who are all polling in double digits, and the GOP has coalesced not around one candidate, but rather on tearing down Ossoff. When Ossoff began to emerge as a threat to win the seat outright, Republican PACs poured nearly $6 million into TV and online ads against him, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

These ads have been savage toward the political neophyte. Ossoff has been portrayed as inexperienced, un-serious, and as an outsider who doesn't live in his district and is fueled by establishment money. The most inflammatory ad implies he's on the payroll of America's enemies, describing him as being paid by "Al Jazeera, a media outlet that has been described as a mouthpiece for terrorists."

Faced with the real possibility of losing a deeply red seat, Republicans even enlisted Trump himself to record a robocall. The president obliged with an incendiary message claiming that "Ossoff will raise your taxes, destroy your health care and flood our country with illegal immigrants."

Ossoff is currently poling around 43 percent, but according to 538, he likely won't quite hit the 50 percent needed to win outright. Due to the unique factors at play in the race, anything beyond that is hard to predict.