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Democratic candidate for Georgia's Sixth Congressional Seat Jon Ossoff speaks to supporters during an election-night watch party Tuesday, April 18, 2017, in Dunwoody, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The close call in Georgia's special election is a sign of more tight races to come


The close call in Georgia's special election is a sign of more tight races to come

WATCH | Both sides are claiming victory in the Georgia special election, so what does it all mean? It's a bellwether for the midterms. 

Two close calls 

After two special elections that were closer than anticipated, the outcome of the 2018 midterm elections is looking less predictable. 

The first came when Republican Ron Estes won a very tight race in Kansas to replace Mike Pompeo who is now the CIA director.

Now in Georgia, Democrat Jon Ossoff was just two points away from winning HHS Secretary Tom Price's seat in the House. Ossoff and second-place Republican candidate Karen Handel will go to a runoff. 

Democrats see an opening, but they need to work harder 

Ossoff's strong performance is encouraging for progressives. He ran a Trump resistance campaign in a district that has been red since 1979. 

When Trump barely squeaked by in Georgia's 6th district and then moved Price to his cabinet, democrats saw an opening. They pumped over $8 million into Ossoff's campaign, more money than all 11 Republican candidates combined. But it wasn't enough. 

Democratic party leaders are also struggling to unify a fractured voter base. 

Party leaders know that they will have to do more grassroots organizing to turn the momentum into victories. 

"We have to have organizers on the ground 12 months a year, not two months before the election," Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said in an interview with CNN. 

Shifting demographics 

But Republicans aren't in the clear by any means. Ossoff's performance, coming on the heels of Estes' narrow win in Kansas, shows that some conservative strongholds are up for grabs. 

And some of that is Trump's own doing. He only won Georgia's 6th congressional district by a few percentage points, and voters in genteel conservative southern districts may feel alienated by Trump's brash rhetoric. 

We need to wake up as a party. There are districts like this all over the country that are getting much more moderate.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina

In an interview on NBC's "The Today Show," South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham admitted that Ossoff's close win should be a warning for the GOP heading into the 2018 midterms. 

Upcoming elections 

Ossoff and Handel will go head-to-head in a runoff election on June 20, the same day as the South Carolina special election to fill former Rep. Mick Mulvaney's seat. He's now the director of the Office of Management and Budget. 

Montana has a special election on May 25 to fill Ryan Zinke's seat in the House. He vacated to become Secretary of the Interior. 

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