Republicans called Ossoff's showing a failure to buy the seat, noting that he spent more than $8 million, and predicted Handel will prevail in a one-on-one runoff June 20.
While cautioning that the election result could not be mapped onto future races ("they call it a special election for a reason"), he said the results in Georgia were meaningful.
JACKSON: Is he expending too much political capital on a race that Republicans should be winning easily?
That attention has unnerved some Republicans, including President Donald Trump, who attacked Ossoff via his Twitter account.
The victor in Georgia will succeed Republican Tom Price, who resigned to join Trump's administration as health secretary.
She said when Mitchell mentioned her name, then she became "the focus of the fury of the left".
Your afternoon shot of politics, sent straight from the desk of Joshua Miller.
"It was a great conversation", said Handel. "That's not going to change". Barack Obama easily won the White House and Democrats expanded upon their House majority.
The Hollywood reference follows Trump's previous assertion that the media is backing Ossoff. Moving to a run-off means the National Republican Congressional Committee will be able to dedicate its resources to the race, and conservative voters can mobilize around a single candidate.
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Still, the competitive nature of the race indicates Democrats are energized in opposition to Trump. They didn't fair so well.
He lectured the journalists in the room: "And so, anything sort of describing that as a loss is - is sort of inconceivable to me in the sense that that's literally what they said their goal was to do.They put all the money that they had in there, they put all the firepower, and they came up short".
The same thing happened in other parts of the country on Tuesday.
In Iowa, a swing state, US Senator Joni Ernst expressed criticism of Trump in a town hall meeting.
She went further to say that Trump "has a number of flaws", referencing some personal attacks the president has made against others.
Trump weighed in Tuesday, urging Republicans to get to the polls, and tweeting: "Democrat Jon Ossoff would be a disaster in Congress". US Senator James Lankford said that Trump should release his tax returns. He has more money than Handel, the momentum from the first round, and a floor of 48 percent of the vote. I would expect Handel to run a more professional, disciplined and focused race than the field of 12 Ossoff faced last night, and that will make it harder for Ossoff to focus on Trump when he has a real live Republican opponent making the case for herself.
But Clinton is no longer a viable foil. In fact, Trump arguably gave Ossoff his opening in the first place; Trump barely won the Georgia 6th in November and failed to win a majority, four years after Republican Mitt Romney got more than 60 percent of the presidential vote.
Tufte, a professor of political science and statistics at Yale who wrote a landmark paper on the subject in 1975, was brief in his response to a question about the validity of using such races to predict the results of midterm elections in 2018.