Even though the two senatorial elections in Georgia may not be as close together as the presidential elections, in which former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump with just over 4,000 votes, it is likely that both will lead to a runoff. Since the balance of power in the Senate is now almost even for Democrats and Republicans, the two runoff elections could determine the Senate majority or a possible split in January.
In Georgia, a candidate, together with nine other states, must receive at least 50 percent of the votes to win a race. If no candidate meets this requirement, the two top candidates compete against each other in a separate runoff election.
Republican incumbent Senator David Perdue currently holds 49.8 percent of the vote against Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff after a large number of ballots were counted in Metro Atlanta and Chatham County – with a difference of just over 95,500 votes.
The second race for the Senate was a special election between Republican incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler – who was appointed by Governor Brian Kemp to succeed Johnny Isakson, who resigned before the end of his term – and Democratic rival Raphael Warnock. The race was declared a runoff after Warnock received 32.9 percent of the vote, 330,000 more than Loeffler.
It is also the most expensive nationwide election in Georgia’s history, with over $150 million spent on advertising campaigns for both races.
Since 99 percent of the votes have been counted nationwide – and only 4,000 more absentee ballots are still outstanding – it is likely that Perdue will not receive the necessary votes to reach 50 percent, so that the election will be officially declared a run-off according to the Georgian electoral law.
Regardless of the outcome of the Perdue-versus-Ossoff race, there will be at least one run-off vote on January 5 next year. Since Democrats and Republicans have each held 48 seats in the Senate in previous elections (with results still pending in Alaska and North Carolina, where Republican candidates have a lead in these races), these run-offs will fuel the controversial fight for control of the Senate.
The Democrats, who currently have a net gain of one Senate seat, would have to turn over at least two more ballots to possibly win a majority in the Senate. If the Democrats secure the White House and there is a tie in the chamber, the Democratic vice president would cast the deciding vote.
“We have all the momentum, we have all the energy, we are on the right side of history,” Ossoff said in a press conference Friday morning. “Are you all ready to work? We are just getting started.”
Although Georgia as a swing state is a relatively new phenomenon, Ossoff received the most votes of any democratic candidate in Georgia’s history nationwide. But according to the election records of the Georgian Foreign Minister, the Democrats have not won a single national election in Georgia since 2006. In the seven runoff elections held over the past 30 years, the Democrats won only one of them.
Loeffler ran for the Republican Senate seat in Georgia against GOP Congressman Doug Collins, both of whom declared their close ties to Trump. However, supporters feared that a split in the Republican vote could occur, giving leverage to Warnock, who was supported by former President Barack Obama. Collins yielded on Tuesday evening, stating that Loeffler had his “support and endorsement”.
The Republican incumbent received a new wave of criticism last month after celebrating the support of Marjorie Taylor Greene, a controversial congressional candidate who had embraced the QAnon conspiracy theory and made racist and bigoted statements. Greene has since won the Congressional race in Georgia’s 14th district against democratic opponent Kevin Van Ausdal.
After the race was heading for a run-off vote, Warnock posted a humorous video on Twitter in anticipation of the upcoming announcements by Loeffler and the Georgia GOP.
“Get ready Georgia. The negative ads are coming against us,” twittered Warnock, the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. “But this will not stop us from fighting for a better future for the Georgians and focusing on the important issues”.
The race between Ossoff and Perdue has proven to be heated for months. Ossoff described his opponent as “corrupt” and accused Perdue of putting his loyalty to Trump above the people and of using his power to gain control of the country.