About two hours after the polls closed in Georgia's Sixth Congressional District on Tuesday night, FiveThirtyEight.com's Nate Silver was gleefully predicting a "long night."
But just 40 minutes later, at 9:46 p.m. EST, he glumly conceded that U.S. Rep.-elect Karen Handel's margin over documentary filmmaker Jon Ossoff was all but insurmountable. And, at 10:06 p.m.—exactly one hour after declaring it would be a long night—he called the race for Handel, a pro-life Republican who fought hard against Planned Parenthood and the entire Democratic Party machine, which had poured nearly $40 million in her opponent's campaign.
It was definitely a "God thing."
A few minutes after Silver made his long-night prediction, another FiveThirtyEight.com analyst recorded the moment the Lord's hand moved on that election. A new set of returns from several different counties show Ossoff severely underperforming in precincts where he was expected to do quite well, particularly with an energized party base bent on sending a message to President Donald Trump.
In the end, however, Handel walked away with a nearly 10,000-vote victory. Ossoff won the early voting by about that same margin, but Handel won Election Day voters by nearly 20,000 votes.
"On April 18, I said this was going to be a very, very tight race, it was going to be contentious, it was going to require all hands on deck, and that's exactly what we had," Handel told supporters at her victory celebration.
She also asked for prayers for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and for the nation as a whole.
"What happened on that ball field was a terrible tragedy, and we all need to continue to lift up Steve and the others who were injured that day," she said. "And we need to also lift up this nation so that we can find a more civil way to deal with our disagreements."
In the other election of the night, state Rep. Ralph Norman, another Republican, won with 51.1 percent of the vote in a five-way race, defeating Democrat and former Goldman Sachs tax attorney, Archie Parnell, by 2,800 votes in an election plagued with low interest and even lower turnout. Parnell did, however, outperform former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's share of the vote from last November, suggesting the low turnout helped his efforts.
On Twitter, the president offered some advice to Democrats:
Congratulations to Karen Handel on her big win in Georgia 6th. Fantastic job, we are all very proud of you!
Ralph Norman ran a fantastic race to win in the Great State of South Carolina's 5th District. We are all honored by your success tonight!
Well, the Special Elections are over and those that want to make America great again are 5 and O! All the Fake News, all the money spent = 0
Democrats would do much better as a party if they got together with Republicans on Healthcare,Tax Cuts,Security. Obstruction doesn't work!
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