A U.S. Senate election campaign in Georgia is spurring what the Democrats have little hope of returning to the upper chamber.
The tense rivalry between Republican Senator David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff is likely to head for a run-off vote, as NBC News predicted. On Thursday night, Perdue had 49.9 percent of the vote – 0.1 percent less than the majority required to avoid a run-off vote, which would not take place until January 5.
This means that control of the Senate may not be known until two days after the swearing in of the new Congress, which will take place on January 3.
The gap between the two candidates was small – 2.1 percent or less than 103,000 votes – for 98 percent of the vote. The race has not yet been decided.
Given the Democrats’ poor performance in other states where they expected to oust several Republicans, such as Susan Collins in Maine, Steve Daines in Montana and the risky races of Mitch McConnell in Kentucky and Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, their last chance now depends solely on the two Senate elections in Georgia.
The state’s other Senate race, between GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock, is already on the verge of a runoff after neither candidate won the majority. Loeffler won 26.1 percent and Warnock 32.7 percent. A third candidate, Republican Congressman Doug Collins, won 20.1 percent.
The Democrats need a net gain of four seats for a 51-50 majority in the Senate or three seats for a split chamber, which they would control in the event of Joe Biden’s victory because their vice candidate Kamala Harris would step down as vice president. The party had a net gain of one seat on Thursday night with wins over Martha McSally in Arizona and Cory Gardner in Colorado. The Democrats lost Senator Doug Jones in Alabama and seemed on track to lose to GOP Senators Thom Tillis in North Carolina and Dan Sullivan in Alaska, although these two races were not yet decided.
Similar to President Donald Trump, Perdue’s lead in the peach state has shrunk significantly since election day as polling officials continued their count of outstanding ballots.
The race between Trump and Biden has yet to be declared in Georgia as well. With 98 percent of the votes for their election campaign, the two were only 0.1 percent or 3,486 votes apart.
A victory for the Democrats in the senate or presidential election campaign in Georgia would be a great victory that the party had not expected. A Democrat has not won a presidential race since Bill Clinton’s first term in office in 1992 and has not won a senatorial campaign in this state since 2000.
Both the Perdue and Ossoff campaigns at the beginning of the day on Thursday recognized the possibility of a runoff election, and both were equally confident that their candidate would prevail.
“One thing we know for sure: Senator David Perdue will be re-elected to the U.S. Senate, and the Republicans will defend the majority,” said Perdue campaign manager Ben Fry. “If overtime has to be worked when all the votes are counted, we’re ready, and we’ll win.
The Ossoff campaign noted that the votes are still being counted, but signaled that they expect a runoff.
“We are confident that Jon Ossoff’s historic performance in Georgia has forced Senator David Perdue to continue defending his inexcusable record of unemployment, illness and corruption,” said campaign manager Ellen Foster.
The competitions in the Georgian Senate were already among the most expensive in the country, with more than $100 million flowing to the five candidates in both races combined. But with the Perdue-Ossoff race joining the Loeffler-Warnock campaign and heading for a runoff, all eyes – and the money – will be on the two elections that could determine control of the Senate.
The political action committee of pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List has pledged $4 million to help “all in” re-elect Perdue and Loeffler – the “pro-life champions” as they have been described.
“Without a Republican pro-life majority in the Senate,” said Speaker Mallory Quigley, “there would be no control over abortion advocates Biden-Harris, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and the radical abortion lobby that is out to end the delaying tactics and grab the Court.