Trump celebrates after his unpopularity puts red seats in play

Georgia’s 6th congressional district has long been a GOP stronghold, represented in recent decades by a pair of high-profile, far-right Republicans Tom Price and Newt Gingrich. When Price gave up the seat to join Donald Trump’s cabinet, the question wasn’t whether he’d be replaced by a Republican, but rather, which one.

And yet, in the first round of balloting, a first-time Democratic candidate very nearly took the seat – and still might.
Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old documentary filmmaker who shattered fundraising records, finished well ahead of his challengers – but came just shy of the 50% threshold necessary to win the closely watched race outright, according to the Associated Press, which called the race just before 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Ossoff, who finished with about 48%, will now head to a runoff on June 20 against Republican Karen Handel, the former Georgia Secretary of State, who bested 10 other GOP hopefuls with about 20% of the overall vote in the unusual all-party primary.
Obviously, Ossoff and his allies hoped to cross the 50% threshold yesterday and avoid a runoff, but the fact that he earned 48% of the vote is an impressive feat for a Democrat in a Republican district in a Republican state. What’s more, with another round of balloting on the way, Ossoff still has a chance to flip the seat from red to blue.

A GOP state senator in Georgia recently said the 6th district’s lines “were not drawn” to elect a Democrat, and yet, there was Ossoff, forcing Republicans to spend millions of dollars they didn’t expect to invest in order to barely keep him below 50%. Yesterday was emblematic of a fact that should make much of the right quite nervous: if Democrats can seriously compete in Georgia’s 6th, it opens up all kinds of opportunities nationwide.

All of which makes it kind of ridiculous to see Trump pat himself on the back.

The Rachel Maddow Show, 4/12/17, 9:55 PM ET

Anti-Trump backlash puts red seats in play

David Nir, political director for Daily Kos, talks with Rachel Maddow about how Donald Trump has motivated a grassroots backlash that threatens traditionally Republican congressional seats.
On Twitter this morning, the president, who may not have read the actual results of the election before commenting, declared yesterday was a “BIG ‘R’ win.” Crediting himself, Trump added, “Glad to be of help!”

He published a similar message last week, after Republicans were forced to scramble to win a congressional special election in a ruby-red Kansas district. Trump congratulated the GOP candidate for “easily winning the Congressional race against the Dems, who spent heavily & predicted victory!

In reality, the Republican didn’t win easily, Democrats didn’t spend heavily, and no Dem predicted victory.

The broader point, whether the president understands this or not, is that Trump’s unpopularity has created a backlash that’s put red seats in play. That’s not something he should be bragging about; it’s something he should find rather humiliating.

Donald Trump and Georgia

Trump celebrates after his unpopularity puts red seats in play