To be sure, it is a long shot. But there is a narrow path in Georgia on which the Democrats, despite their gloomy performance in this election, could still conquer the Senate.
If both Senate elections in the peach state are heading for a runoff – one of which is already taking place – and the Democrats win both seats, control of the upper chamber would probably be tied at 50-50. And if Joe Biden wins the victory over President Donald Trump – which was likely on Wednesday night – the Democrats would be in control, with a Vice President Kamala Harris having the power to tie the vote.
Aside from being the president’s successor in times of death, resignation or removal from office, the only other constitutional power of a vice president is to preside over the Senate. The ability to create a tied vote in a split Senate would allow Harris to wield enormous power. But it would also give each member an enormous amount of influence.
It would be a steep climb for the Democrats to win one, let alone two, seats in the Senate of Georgia. Remarkably, Biden has done remarkably well in a state that has not been won by a Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton’s first term. The last Democratic senator to win in that state was Zell Miller in 2000.
Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock went into a runoff, as neither of them won the majority of votes. On Wednesday, Loeffler received 26.1 percent of the vote with 94 percent of the vote and Warnock 32.5 percent of the vote. Congressman Doug Collins (R-Ga.) siphoned off a significant portion of the conservative votes in Loeffler’s state – 20.1 percent – but the incumbent would still have fallen below the 50 percent hurdle.
Senator David Perdue (R-Ga.) and his fight against the Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff is on the verge of a run-off vote. Perdue had 50.2 percent of the vote compared to 47.5 percent of Ossoff’s vote. Almost 130,000 votes separated the two.
Perdue, however, had only 0.20 percent of the votes to seek a runoff.
The fate of the Senate could remain in limbo for months: On January 5, two days after the swearing-in of the new Congress, the run-off elections for a federal office in Georgia will take place.
Just as the number of outstanding votes decreased the previous day, so did the Democrats’ chances of making majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a minority leader. The Democrats need a net win of four seats for a 51-50 majority or a net win of three seats for a 50-50 split.
On Wednesday night, the Democrats gave up two seats but had a net gain of only one because the Republicans also had to give up one seat. Democrats Mark Kelly in Arizona and former Governor John Hickenlooper in Colorado pushed off GOP Senators Martha McSally and Cory Gardner. Republican Tommy Tuberville lost his seat as Democratic Senator Doug Jones in Alabama.
Given the mountains of cash that fell into the Democrats’ hands, this was a lackluster performance. The party seems on the verge of losing every other seat that was thought to be up for grabs. Republican Senators Susan Collins in Maine, Steve Daines in Montana, Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, John Cornyn in Texas and Joni Ernst in Iowa all successfully fended off their Democratic challengers.
The races in North Carolina and Alaska have not yet been decided. However, the Republican incumbents in both states-Tom Tillis and Dan Sullivan-held the lead against the Democrats who were running against them.
McConnell, whose seat was considered by some Democrats to be in play but a longshot, crushed his Democratic opponent.
Granted, the Kentucky Republican told reporters in his home state on Wednesday that the fate of the House of Lords remains unclear.
“I don’t know whether I will be the defensive or offensive coordinator,” McConnell said, noting that Maine and North Carolina would be central.