Jon Ossoff did not do the impossible.
The near-death experience for Republicans - on the heels of one a week earlier in Kansas, where Democrats almost flipped a deep-red district - could still have the effect of leading GOP lawmakers in competitive states and districts to seek distance from the President, making it even more hard for Trump to advance his agenda on Capitol Hill. On the morning of the election, the President tweeted and called for a wave against Ossoff.
"I need you to get out to the polls tomorrow, April 18, and vote Republican", Trump said in the call. If Democrats can net 24 seats, they would recapture the majority. The same should hold true for Republicans in the GA-6.
Ossoff, 30, was the top vote getter in a field of 18 candidates, 11 of them Republicans, in a suburban Atlanta district that has sent Republicans to Congress since the 1970s. That strong showing keeps the district as a tossup in June. Even though there were five other Democrats in the race, major local Democratic figures lined up early behind him, including neighboring Reps. Dave Wasserman of Cook Political Report wrote several days ago, "Bottom line: it's a Toss Up".
Republican donations likely will begin to pour in for the runoff, now that one of the eleven Republican candidates in the race will go up against Ossoff in the June 20 runoff.
Of course Ossoff could still win the runoff-though Nate Silver's claim that "the outcome of a runoff is more like a true 50-50 proposition" shows not even quants are immune from wishful thinking. Republican runoff candidate Karen Handel didn't mention him in her speech on Tuesday night. The Leftmedia was so convinced Ossoff had it in the bag they had live, breathless coverage of the results.
Looking ahead, Democrats are eyeing a special election Montana, where Bernie Sanders-aligned folk singer Rob Quist has won the party's nomination for the state-wide seat.
"This district has a long legacy of Republican leadership", she said. He's had the advantage of multiple opponents beating each other up for the past few weeks, and Republican money got into the game reasonably late.
The Republicans didn't win, whatever Trump wants to pretend.
"They opposed the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare".
"Tomorrow, we start the campaign anew", Handel said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Now, she says, she's free to ask all her friends and neighbors to be "on our team".
However, these aspects of Ossoff's candidacy do not change the underlying narrative that has catapulted his campaign to national prominence. "I think he can go up against Karen Handel no problem". That he nearly won is troubling for the GOP.
Maybe that's because the intended recipient isn't in Georgia... he's in the White House.
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. But he ran as a partner for Trump.
"Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan can't be feeling great right now". He, in turn, did better than Amy Kremer who helped run a Trump related super PAC.