Some, particularly on Twitter, are laughing their #Ossoff, following the special election to fill the 6th congressional district in Georgia June 20. Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel spent about $20 million each in the most expensive House race in history. Ossoff outspent Handel $13.6 million to $2.3 million on TV and radio advertisements. Most of his money came from out-of-state donations.

Handel won 52 percent of the nearly 260,000 votes cast in the district covering the northern suburbs of Atlanta.

She campaigned as an experienced elected official. Handel followed a conservative script in 2017, but she was an anti-establishment candidate in earlier races at the local, state and federal levels.

What swayed voters?

The GOP reminded potential voters at every opportunity—through the candidate and messaging—that Ossoff did not live in the district. In other words, Ossoff could not vote for himself. Exit polls suggest that had a major impact. Handel not only exposed her 30-year-old opponent’s inexperience, but she also linked Ossoff to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and “San Francisco politics.” In addition, the outside help Ossoff recieved from so-called Hollywood liberals and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee backfired in the eyes of locals.

The DCCC paid nine staffers to support Ossoff’s campaign, according to NPR.

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It also sponsored three focus groups within the district that will further study how to reach young voters, African-American voters and swing voters.

Many thought the black vote was key. Georgia’s sixth is 13 percent African American. Those voters sat out of the 2016 when Donald Trump topped Hillary Clinton by one percent in this normally solid Republican district. Ossoff may have been forced into a run off with Handle after a flat African-American turnout in the special primary in April. Ossoff needed 50 percent of the primary vote to win the seat outright, but only won 48 percent of the vote. Handel was second in a “jungle primary” including 17 other Republicans. Heavy Republican turnout diluted Ossoff’s victory margin forcing the runoff.

Ossoff needed 50 percent of the primary vote to win the seat outright, but only won 48 percent of the vote. Handel was second in a “jungle primary” including 17 other Republicans. Heavy Republican turnout diluted Ossoff’s victory margin forcing the runoff.

Racial politics?

“African American voters are really frustrated with the party,” Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher told the Atlanta Constitution Journal. He worked on Obama’s campaigns and recently conducted a survey of African American voter attitudes for the Congressional Black Caucus. A majority of African Americans nationally thinks the party takes them for granted, he concluded. “And a majority thinks the party doesn’t even try to win their votes.”

Atlanta and its suburbs are home to many African Americans. The area is comprised of three congressional districts. Georgia’s fourth and fifth are both majority minority districts. The fourth and fifth include parts of DeKalb County. Only 16 percent of voters are black in DeKalb’s section of the 6th District. Still, Clinton carried the precincts with 80 percent of the vote in 2016. Trump carried the overall district by one point.

Another mistake Democrats have made seems to be with their embrace of undocumented aliens. Hispanics now comprise about 13 percent of residents in the district. Many cannot vote. Asians are a growing influence in the population—about 7 percent and growing. Political parties need messages that reach beyond race to grow.