Roughly five hours after polling locations closed, major networks began projecting that Georgia's 6th District U.S. House special election would be heading toward a runoff on June 20. And that's a big contrast to the Democrat who doesn't even live in the district. "We have defied the odds. shattered expectations", Ossoff said, and he urged his supporters to embrace the prospects of a runoff, telling them they would "carry us to victory".
"That was ironic in his comments there", Handel said Wednesday.
Handel, the leading Republican, received 37,993 votes, or 19.8 percent.
"He specifically talked about strength under pressure, and I was grateful for that as well", said Handel.
Part of what is fueling Democratic excitement about the race is that while Trump won Georgia by six percentage points, the district that Ossoff seeks to win supported Trump by barely one point over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Pete Korman, 6th District voter, said national enthusiasm for Ossoff has been frustrating to watch, but he thinks Handel will win voters in the 6th. "Of course he has a vested interest in making sure that a Republican holds the seat". "MoveOn members are fired up - and if Ossoff doesn't top 50 percent tonight, we're ready to help him finish this race with a victory in June".
"The eyes of the nation will be watching", she said Tuesday night.
The Kansas and Georgia races also serve notice that GOP candidates may struggle to handle Trump, who alienates many independents and even some Republicans. There will now be a run-off between Ossoff and Handel. Republican Karen Handel got almost 20 percent.
According to Real Clear Politics' poll tracking, Ossoff was the presumed front-runner as he had support in the 41 percent to 45 percent range in the race for Georgia's 6th congressional district. His strong showing in the conservative district, driven by eye-popping fundraising numbers from out-of-state donors, underscored Democrats' eagerness to get a win against Trump as they strive to take back House control in 2018.
Republicans have made their own attempts at nationalizing the campaign.
But his candidacy became a sensation among liberal activists nationwide, who helped Ossoff raise more than $8 million in only two months - an astounding sum that helped him become an early front-runner in the race.
Another main reason of the young Democrat's popularity is that he channeled his campaign very well. And Democratic leaders say they hope the energy he's stirred in the party's base will be a sign of things to come in next year's midterm elections.
Werner reported from Washington.