(CNN)On Thursday, Senate Democrats got a bit of an unexpected boost when Jon Ossoff eked above the 50% plateau in the party primary and, in so doing, avoided a runoff for the right to face Republican Sen. David Perdue in Georgia in the fall.
In clearing the 50% mark, Ossoff — along with national Democrats — avoids what would have been a two-month runoff that would have not only been costly but also would have truncated the timeline to rally behind the eventual nominee.
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While Perdue’s bid for a second term draws less attention than appointed Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s ongoing struggles in her first six months in office, there’s little question that Georgia’s changing demographics — and distaste for President Donald Trump among suburban women — have made the state a battleground at the presidential and Senate level.(Nota bene: Both of Georgia’s US Senate seats are up in November because Loeffler’s appointment only carries through this election; she is seeking to fill the final two years of former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term.)Don’t believe me? Just ask Perdue! “Here’s the reality: The state of Georgia is in play,” Perdue said in late April, according to an audio recording of a call with “Women for Trump” obtained by CNN. “The Democrats have made it that way.”Read MoreNow, it’s worth noting that Democrats haven’t won a Senate seat in the state since 2000, when former Gov. Zell Miller won a special election. (Miller later spoke on behalf of President George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection at the Republican National Convention, although he never left the Democratic Party.)And Democrats spent months touting Democrat Michelle Nunn’s candidacy against Perdue in 2014 only to watch as the Republican cruised to an 8-point win in the open-seat contest. All of which means that there is reason to be somewhat skeptical that Ossoff can beat Perdue, a reliable vote for Trump over his first six years in office. Everything likely needs to go right for Ossoff to win. But avoiding a runoff was the first key piece of that puzzle.Ossoff, one of the best Democratic fundraisers in the country, can now spend his summer collecting cash to match Perdue’s $9 million bank account while putting in place the organizational pieces he needs to have a chance.And that’s a big win — for Ossoff and his party.The Point: The name of the game right now for Senate Democrats looking to retake the majority in the fall is expanding the playing field so that they have more margin for error. Ossoff’s outright primary win helps that cause.