Live results: Georgia special election

Election day has arrived in Georgia, and all eyes are on whether Democrat Jon Ossoff will top 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff and deliver a blow to Republicans and President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration MORE ahead of 2018.

The Hill will be updating this blog as polls close at 7 p.m. Here are five things to watch for as the results come in.

It's a runoff
 
Updated 1:15 a.m. 
 
Folks, we have a runoff. Multiple news outlets are projecting a runoff between Ossoff and Handel. 
 
As of 1 a.m., Ossoff has 48 percent of the vote to Handel's 20 percent of the vote, setting them up for a final battle in June. 
 
The result is a disappointment to Democrats who were hoping that Ossoff could deliver a knockout blow and win the race in one night, staving off a runoff. But now both sides will regroup and gear up for two more months of campaigning. 
 
That's all for tonight from The Hill's campaign team. Be sure to check back in tomorrow for our continuing coverage of the Georgia special and the fallout from the highest-profile special election of a young 2017. Thank you for reading. 
 
 
Updated 12:37 a.m. 
 
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) congratulated Handel as she seemed poised to advance to the runoff. 
 
Trump claims win for Republicans
 
Updated 12:12 a.m. 
 
President Trump sent out a celebratory tweet as results flowed in, calling the result a win for Republicans despite Ossoff's funding, the media and a crowded GOP field. He also posted the message to his official @POTUS account. 
Ossoff says: 'Bring it on'
 
Updated 12:10 a.m. 
 
With results trickling in showing Ossoff likely heading to a runoff, the Democrat had one message to his rivals: "Bring it on."
 
Speaking at his watch party around midnight, Ossoff declared that no matter whether he's forced to a runoff or not, "this is already a victory for the ages." 
 
"We have defied the odds, we have shattered expectations. We are changing the world and your voices are going to ring out across this state and across this country," he said. 
 
"There is no amount of dark money, super-PAC, negative advertising that can overcome real grassroots energy like this. So bring it on because we are courageous, we are humble and we know how to fight."
 
Ossoff falls below 50 percent
 
Updated 12:05 a.m. 
 
Finally some movement, and it didn't go well for Jon Ossoff. The Democrat dipped to 48.6 percent with 84 percent of precincts reporting. 
 
It looks like Fulton County is beginning to figure out its issues, which could potentially mean a call soon. 
 
All other numbers stayed about the same —Handel sits in a comfortable second place, followed by Gray, Hill and then Moody.  

Technical problems persist in Fulton County

Updated 11:42 p.m. 

Vote totals are still stuck at 54 percent counted more than four hours after polling closed in nearly all locations. The culprit, apparently: massive technical problems in Fulton County. 

Handel claims victory for runoff's second spot
 
Updated at 11:35 p.m. 
 
With the outcome increasingly looking like a runoff, leading Republican Karen Handel took to the stage at her campaign watch party to celebrate. 
 
 
According to Michelle Baruchman, a journalist with the Atlanta Journal Constitution who  at the party, Handel went on to call for party unity around her. 
 
"Tomorrow we start the campaign anew. Beating Ossoff and holding this seat is something that rises above any one person," she said. 
 
Her remarks come soon after her primary opponent, Bob Gray, called for Republicans to "rally behind Karen Handel." 
 
 

Reports of tech problems in remaining county

Updated 11:20 p.m.

 
Precincts in Fulton County have stopped reporting and there are reports from on the ground about potential tech problems delaying the count. 
 
 
 
Returns slow to crawl
 
Updated 11:03 p.m.
 
The election returns are still coming in. Or at least they're supposed to be.
 
We hit the halfway mark of precincts reported just before 10 p.m. ET. But by 11 p.m., the the count sits at 54 percent reporting. 
 
Ossoff is just above that 50 percent threshold with 50.3 percent. And Handel continues to hold her second-place spot with 18 percent. Hill and Gray follow with 10 percent. 
 
No clear answer on what's causing the delay, but it's shaping up to be a long night as the waiting game continues now four hours after most polls closed. 
 
With the outstanding ballots in Republican Fulton County, though, Ossoffo is still expected to face a runoff against GOP candidate Handel.
 

Dem groups congratulate Ossoff 

Updated 10:50 p.m.

The race hasn’t been called yet, but progressive groups are starting to congratulate Ossoff for his “first-place finish” as he hangs on to 50.3 percent.

The early statements, sent before the race has been called, suggest that these groups believe the race is likely headed to a runoff.

Democracy for America (DFA), which endorsed Ossoff last month, released a statement from DFA chair Jim Dean.

“The mere fact that we’re even talking about a competitive race in a congressional district Democrats haven’t held in over 40 years, let alone Jon Ossoff’s sound victory tonight, is a testament to the growing strength of a nationwide, grassroots movement that’s looking for leaders ready to stand up to the Republicans empowering Donald Trump’s hate-fueled agenda.”

MoveOn.org also made a statement, seeking to downplay if Ossoff falls below 50 percent and the race goes to a runoff in June:

“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, and to elect the MoveOn-endorsed Rob Quist in Montana in May, continuing to show Donald Trump and Republicans that their unpopular push to take away healthcare from millions will cost them at the ballot box.”

 
Second straight strong showing for Dems in red districts
 
Updated 10:31 p.m. 
As a runoff — and ensuing Democratic disappointment — looks more and more likely, it's worth pointing out that this is the second consecutive special election where Democrats have ran well in a red congressional district. 
 
Trump won the district by less than 2 percent, so one big question coming into this was whether the margin would revert back to historic trends (where Republicans win safely) or echo those 20-16 lines. 
 
Democrats had been encouraged by the results in last week's Kansas special election, where the Democrat ran 20 points better than past candidates but still fell short. 
 
So even if Ossoff falls short of winning the race outright, the showing represents a strong improvement from previous congressional races.
 
But the real question remains: will this trend continue in other special elections or congressional races, or will the district ultimately revert back to the GOP-favoring mean by the midterms?
 
 

Ossoff improves on Clinton in Democratic area — a little

The final results from DeKalb County, a strong area for Democrats, has Ossoff with 58.6 percent of the vote. Handel comes in second with 16.6 percent.

That’s a slightly higher return for Ossoff than Clinton received in 2016, when she won the 6th District portion of DeKalb with 57 percent.

Ossoff at almost exactly 50 percent

Updated at 9:59 p.m.
 
At the halfway mark, Ossoff is barely holding onto that 50-percent margin in order to avoid a runoff.
 
Ossoff has 50.1 percent of the vote, with 50 percent of precincts reporting. 
 
He'll need to maintain that number, but it looks increasingly unlikely with half of the vote still outstanding, many of them in reliably Republican areas.
Ossoff dropping toward 50 percent
 
Updated at 9:46 p.m. 
 
More votes are coming in and Ossoff's margin continues to drop. With 40 percent of precincts reporting he's now at just 51 percent. If he ends the night below 50 percent, he'll be forced into a runoff against the second-place candidate.
 
A runoff would be a disappointment for Democrats who looked at the strong early-vote totals and were hoping Ossoff could win the seat outright tonight. But with so many factors still in play, anything is possible. 
 
Handel continues to expand her second-place lead — she's now at 18 percent. Republican rivals Hill and Gray are bunched up behind her at about 10 percent. 
 

Celebrity Ossoff supporter not feeling good about results

Updated 9:45 p.m.

Actress Alyssa Milano, who campaigned in Georgia for Ossoff and offered to drive voters to early voting, appeared to reference Ossoff's shrinking lead in a tweet. 

Ossoff lead continues to shrink

Updated 9:32 p.m. 

Ossoff’s lead continues to shrink, with 32 percent of precincts reporting.

He has nearly 54 percent of the vote. Ossoff needs to maintain 50 percent if he wants to avoid a runoff, but as more Election Day votes roll in, his numbers keep sinking.
 
Handel has grown her lead slightly to 17.6 percent, and continues to hold onto second place.
 
 
Other Democrats at combined 1 percent
 
Updated 9:23 p.m. 
While the Democratic apparatus is united around Ossoff, he is not the only Democrat in the race. And while those candidates are barely registering at the polls, their votes could matter if Ossoff fails to avert a runoff and break 50 percent. 
 
Ragin Edwards, Ron Slotin, Rebecca Quigg and Richard Keatley, the other Democrats, have won a combined 770 votes, about 1 percent at the 20 percent reporting mark. That 1 percent has held firm since earlier this evening too. 
 
Ossoff and national Democrats would love to add that extra 1 percent to his margin, especially if he finishes right below that 50 percent threshold. 
 

Analysts leaning towards runoff — but still early

Updated 9:20 p.m. 

 

 

 

Ossoff lead shrinks with 20 percent reporting

We're one-fifth of the way done, with 20 percent of precincts reporting, and the numbers haven't changed too much. 
 
Ossoff has 57 percent of the vote, a slight decrease from earlier this evening. Handel still sits strong in second place now with 16 percent. Moody has pulled into third place with 8.6 percent while Gray sits in fourth with 8 percent. 
 
Hill has boosted his share of the vote to about 7 percent, but still sits in fifth.
Handel takes second-place GOP position behind Ossoff

Updated 8:55 p.m.

It’s still very early, but Handel has separated herself from the GOP pack.

The former Georgia secretary of State sits in second place behind Ossoff with nearly 15 percent of the vote, with 4 percent of precincts reporting.
 
The other Republicans trail in the single digits: Moody with 8.5, Gray with 7.2 and Hill with 5.6.
 
If the race does go to a runoff, Handel looks well-positioned to take that second spot.

Ossoff wins nearly two-thirds of total early vote

Updated 8:36 p.m.

Fulton County has provided the last early-voting results, and Ossoff leads again.

Ossoff has 61 percent in the county, with Handel and Moody trailing behind, with 16 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

When the election day votes eventually come in, Fulton County is expected to be split between Handel, Moody and Gray, who all have ties to the area.
 
With the early-voting numbers in from all three counties, Ossoff has 62 percent of the vote.
New results bode well for Ossoff

Updated 8:30 p.m. 

Early-voting numbers in Cobb County are another good sign for Ossoff.

The Georgia Democrat leads with 57 percent in the county, followed by Republican candidates Hill with 14.5 percent and Handel with nearly 12 percent.

Ossoff’s strong early-voting performance in Cobb is welcome news for the candidate since it’s a tougher area for Democrats. Clinton won Cobb County in 2016, but not the portion that falls in the 6th District.

It’s also a pretty good sign for Hill, who represented parts of Cobb in the state Senate.
 
Again, a lot is going to change over the course of the night especially when results cast on election day roll in.
 

 

One precinct snapshot

Updated 8:14 p.m.

It's just one precinct, but Bloomberg's Conor Sen has a picture of one place where Ossoff is outperforming Clinton. 

Ossoff volunteers make "MAGA" magnets of their own

Updated 8:07 p.m.

The Journal-Constitution's Greg Bluestein tweets that Ossoff volunteers were handing out magnets with this Journal-Constitution political cartoon, a play on Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan. 

First results come in

Updated 7:55 p.m.

The first results are starting to roll in nearly an hour after polls closed, and they bode well for Ossoff so far.

With less than 1 percent of precincts reporting, Ossoff has 71 percent, followed by Handel with 11 percent, Moody with 9 percent, Gray with 4 percent, and Hill with 2.5 percent.

Still, the votes are all from DeKalb County, which is the bluest of the counties in the 6th District. Ossoff was expected to have a strong showing with early voting as well as in DeKalb.

Who wins with higher turnout?

Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman thinks high turnout figures tonight could be good for the GOP and help stop Ossoff from winning a majority of votes.

Voting extended at two precincts

Updated at 7:30 p.m.
 
It likely won't delay results too long, but two precincts in Fulton County will stay open briefly past 7 p.m., The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting. Centennial High School in Roswell will stay open until 7:35 p.m., and Johns Creek Environmental Campus in Alpharetta will stay open until 7:55 p.m. 
 
The Centennial location had poll workers show up late, and Johns Creek had issues with ballot machines, according to the report.
 
Atlanta political reporter predicts long night

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Greg Bluestein suspects it may take a while for tonight's totals to come in. 

Outside money, party groups bet big on the race  

Updated at 7:20 p.m.
 
Issue One, a nonprofit that pushes for campaign finance reform, has some interesting numbers about all of the money that's flooded into this special district. 
 
Democrat Jon Ossoff has trumpeted his $8.3 million direct fundraising haul through March, a hefty sum for any congressional candidate, let alone a political newcomer. All of the other candidates combined raised a bit under $5 million for their bids. 
 
Party organizations — the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on the left and the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Campaign on the right — have pushed staffers and ad dollars into the district. 
 
And, as Issue One points out, special interest and outside group money has poured in too—27 separate outside groups have spent on advertising. 
 
In total, outside groups spent $7.9 million in the race, with $4.7 million spent against Ossoff. 
 
Congressional Leadership Fund, a group tied to House Republican leadership, spent more than any outside group—about $2.7 million on advertising and a ground game to support Republican turnout and hit Ossoff.
 
And Ossoff received help from groups like the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and the liberal blog Daily Kos, which fundraised for him.  
 

What Ossoff needs in early vote

Update 7:15 p.m.

Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman is tweeting about how the early vote totals need to shape up to push Ossoff over the 50 percent line.  

 Polls are closed 

Update 7 p.m.
 
The polls have closed in Georgia at 7 p.m. EST.
 
Expect to see early voting numbers rolling in first and then keep an eye on DeKalb County, a blue-trending county where Ossoff is expected to do well. He will also need to perform well in Cobb County and run up the score to levels like Hillary Clinton did in the 2016 election.
 
Also keep an eye on Fulton County, where three of the leading GOP contenders — Handel, Moody and Gray — all have ties. They're expected to split the vote so it could come down to voter turnout in DeKalb for Republicans.
 

Dems look to score special election win

Update 6 p.m.

Democrats have sought to make the special election a referendum on President Trump, with liberal outside groups and donors pouring money in the race. Republicans have responded with outside efforts of their own, as well as a robocall and tweets from Trump.

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Eighteen candidates are competing in Tuesday’s “jungle primary” to fill the seat vacated by Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

If no candidate receives more than 50 of the vote, the top two candidates will advance to a runoff on June 20. Ossoff is thought to face a harder time in a runoff, when the GOP will have time to unite behind a single candidate. On Monday, Trump tweeted that "a runoff will be a win." 

Trump won the district in 2016 by less than 2 points. Trump's slim margin in the district was despite the reliably conservative seat typically being filled by GOP heavyweights like former Speaker Newt Gingrich and now-Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonOn The Money: Lawmakers wait for Trump verdict on border deal | Trump touts deal as offering B for security | McConnell presses Trump to sign off | National debt tops T | Watchdog details IRS shutdown woes Trump criticizes border wall deal: 'Can't say I'm happy' GOP senators offer praise for Klobuchar: 'She’s the whole package' MORE.

Keep an eye out for early-voting totals and high turnout from those who voted at the ballot box on Tuesday.