Rep. John BarrowOne of the nation’s most respected political handicappers has shifted Georgia’s twelfth congressional district from narrow GOP advantage to lean Democratic as the contest enters its final days.

The Rothenberg Political Report, a nonpartisan campaign tracker, writes in its latest dispatch that incumbent Democratic Rep. John Barrow is outstripping GOP challenger Lee Anderson in campaign craft.

“This district is one that should have never been a headache for the GOP,” so goes the premortem, “but after getting a week nominee in state Rep. Lee Anderson, reality is setting in for many Republican operatives.” (The analysis is locked behind a subscribe paywall, but its contents was provided to Tipsheet by a Democratic operative.)

Rothenberg says the dynamic shift isn’t the exclusive consequence of Anderson, who has weathered local criticism for his refusal to debate Barrow, but instead the fruit of a potent advertising campaign by the incumbent and his allies.

Praise for Barrow’s television offerings has been virtually unanimous, even among conservative critics. The Washington Post on Thursday called Barrow’s two-step a “one-of-a-kind” appeal to both conservative and independent voters.

“Barrow … has run a good race with terrific TV ads meant to demonstrate his political independence and get voters to focus on him and not his party,” Rothenberg says, noting his recent gunslinging advertisement in which the blue dog vowed “ain’t nobody going to take” away his guns.

Because Barrow’s endorsements by generally conservative groups like the National Rifle Association and the Chamber of Commerce has begun eroding Republican Anderson’s base of support among conservative white voters, Rothenberg said it was shifting the race from “toss-up/tilt Republican” to “toss-up/tilt Democrat” to “reflect recent polling and the quality of the two candidates’ campaigns.”

Republicans have shown no signs of surrender, though. On Monday, a pro-Republican super PAC will begin a $200,000 advertising campaign to push Anderson across the finish line.

– James Richardson