None of the candidates were able to win at least 50% votes for Georgia’s Senate race on November 3, which resulted in the undecided Senate. Now, after the all-important November 3 elections, the next important event is the Georgia runoff elections, which will decide the fate of the US Senate for the next two years.
The highly anticipated elections are scheduled for January 5. While Republicans want to control the Senate once again to give a tough time to Joe Biden, Democrats are all set to snatch the Senate majority back.
The early voting numbers in the Georgia runoff elections already show a promising trend, as almost 2.5 million people have already cast their ballots.
Currently, Republicans have 50 Senate seats, and Democrats have 48; so, in total, 98 seats have already been occupied. Now, the race is all about winning the remaining two seats. All the tussle is to control the Senate and, therefore, the dominant part of the legislature.
The first race is between incumbent Republican David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 33-years old former journalist, who has emerged as an inspiration for the young and aspiring politicians.
The second race which has attracted the media’s attention is between Republican Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock. Loeffler is a wealthy businesswoman, and Warnock is a pastor from an Atlanta Church.
Interestingly, if Loeffler wins, she will be the first woman Senator from Georgia, making this Senate race more colorful than the other one. With all eyes on the state of Georgia, America is ready to see a close contest between the two major parties.
Let’s explore the recent happenings of the Georgia runoff election.
Senate Runoffs: Why All This Fuss?
A runoff election is simply a second election when no candidate could secure the general elections’ required majority. The Georgia legislature passed a law in the 1960s that empowered the state to conduct a runoff vote if no candidates secured at least 50% of the votes in the general elections.
Ten states in the United States can conduct runoff elections. Special elections, which are conducted to fill in the vacant seats in the Senate or House of Representatives when an incumbent member resigns or dies, are also termed as runoff election.
The majority party of the Senate has distinctive powers. These powers include approval of the presidential nominations, bills, and other legislations.
If the opposition party holds the Senate majority, it becomes much difficult for the President to run the country.
President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20. After this, he will immediately nominate his cabinet members. His nominations will be certified by the Senate before taking responsibilities for their respective departments.
The political tug and pull between Democrats and Republicans will make it critical for the Democrats to get Biden’s nominees and his policies approved from a Republican-dominated Senate. Hence for them, the stakes are high for the Georgia runoff elections.
If they manage to win both the seats, there will be a 50-50 tie between the Democrats and the Republicans. In this case, the vice president has to cast the tie-breaking vote in case of any tied vote in the Senate, which will be Kamala Harris by then.
The power of the Senate is far more than the house, which is currently ruled by Democrats. The Senate can sabotage any policy recommendation, legislative changes, and appointment. So simply, Democrats need a majority in the Senate to make things easy for the Biden government, and Republicans need it to make things difficult for Biden.
The Battles of Georgia Runoffs: Who is Competing with Whom?
There are currently two Senate races in Georgia. Republican Senator David Perdue is running against Democratic Jon Ossoff. On the other end, Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler is facing Democrat Raphael Warnock in a special election after Loeffler was appointed to the seat left by Senator Johnny Isakson, who resigned due to health concerns.
The battle between Perdue and Ossoff seems to get horrific at times, with both candidates launching personal attacks on each other. Perdue even refused to meet Ossoff is one of the recent TV debates.
The battle between Loeffler and Warnock is gaining much attention from both conservative and progressive media. Both candidates will be the first of their kind from Georgia to reach the Senate if they win. Warnock is a religious man, a pastor in the same church where Martin Luther King once held the same position. Loeffler is a wealthy businessperson who had a campaign full of controversies.
Loeffler ran into criticism after she termed BLM having “Marxist foundations” and criticizing her own WNBA team for supporting BLM.
Recently, Loeffler was asked about her thoughts on Trump’s bill to increase the stimulus payout package on Fox News. She started to praise President Donald Trump for everything he has done for the country and ditched the actual question. Later on, she took to Twitter and showed her full support for $2,000 direct relief checks. It seemed that she was trying to clarify herself to the party supporters and leaders in front of Fox News.
The relief package has been very critical for Georgia runoffs and a nightmare for Georgia Republicans. Demands to boost the relief package from $600 to $2000 will force Republican Senators to vote against their President or the conservatives in the Senate. Therefore, they are trying to avoid this debate as much as they could.
The Polls and the Predictions
No Democratic candidate ever won the state of Georgia in the last several years. However, Joe Biden flipped many deep-red states, including Georgia, becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate winning Georgia in the previous thirty years.
This turn of events increases the chances of Democrats to break another decades-old record in the Senate election in early January.
It is a logical assumption that those who voted for Joe Biden will make sure that Biden has favorable terms to establish and implement his policies.
Astonishingly, according to GOP pollster Frank Luntz, three percent of Trump voters will not vote in the Georgia runoffs, as they do not trust the political system after the recent spread of conspiracy theories from Trump and his allies.
The polls from FiveThirtyEight show that Perdue is leading Ossoff by 0.5 percent. Similarly, Warnock is ahead of Loeffler by 0.6 percent.
However, the platform was highly criticized after the Presidential election as it undermined Republican support in many states.
Politico classifies the Asian American voters as the key to win the Georgia Senate races.
Early Voting in Record Numbers: Georgia Another Controversy inLine?
Georgia has also allowed its registered voters to apply for absentee ballots without any valid reason. The decision came with the spread of the unprecedented coronavirus crisis.
According to the Secretary of State, more than 2.5 million votes have already been cast in the Georgia runoff, as early voting started on December 14, 2020. Almost 1.7 million ballots were cast in-person at early voting locations, while about 0.8 million were cast by mail-in ballots.
The state issued 1.4 million absentee ballots to the registered voters who wanted to vote from their homes. Moreover, 71,000 absentee ballots were requested by those who also cast their ballots through mail-in ballots in the presidential election.
The early voting also showed that Black voters have turned out in larger numbers than the general election in November. This becomes a hope for Democrats, as Warnock would be the first Black Senator from Georgia. Not only this, but turnout has also been increased in Democrat-held congressional districts, which depicts hope for them.
Americans residing outside the US can request an absentee ballot till January 5, 2021. The ballots should be postmarked by January 4, 2021, and should not be received later than January 8, 2021.
The Financial Battle to Win the Senate:
Both the parties seem to be in full flow for the election. On paper, both parties are investing huge money to win the election, but the recent controversy of Trump stealing the Republican’s donor money has raised many questions regarding financial matters.
However, according to some estimates, the total spending may reach $540 million by election day. This is a massive amount to spend on a runoff campaign, but it is worth the Senate majority.
When to See the Georgia Verdict?
While this has been the most asked question in the presidential race, it still resides on top in Georgia Senate runoffs. In normal times, election results become clear on election night, but these challenging times of COVID-19 can tell a different story.
All the restrictions and SOPs may slow down the counting process. Due to a significant number of mail-in ballots, ballots take extra time to reach their destinations and may not be counted by election night.
Additionally, the current circumstances in the political spectrum of the country may also delay the results. Donald Trump and his allies tried to slow down the vote count and certification process in a presidential election that resulted in a delay.
As Georgia runoffs have the same importance as the Presidential race, Republicans can try their best to sabotage the process if they lose. However, even in the worst-case scenario, the results will be crystal-clear before Biden’s inauguration day.
Democrats and Republicans are ready to compete to decide the fate of the United States Senate. The incoming Biden administration needs to have a Democrat-controlled Senate to pass their nominations and the other policy changes.
A Republican Senate will be a major roadblock for the Democrats, and Biden will be in no position to implement his long-planned policies in the country.
If Republicans win even a single seat, most Senate votes will be a mere political show, as they will hold the majority again. So, all the policies of Biden will be reversed by Republicans.
Therefore, it has become essential for Democrats to eradicate the Republican majority from Congress.
However, his legacy will stay, and Biden needs a Democrat Senate to undo everything done wrong to this country under Trump’s doctrine.