Georgia Senate runoff election: Nearly 2.1M vote early in crucial polls that will decide who rules Senate

The elections are crucial for both the GOP and Democrats since the party that will win them will dominate the chamber


                            Georgia Senate runoff election: Nearly 2.1M vote early in crucial polls that will decide who rules Senate
(Getty Images)

The next big thing in America’s electoral politics is the twin Senate runoff elections in Georgia on January 5 — their outcomes will decide which party will dominate the chamber next. The Senate is now divided 50-48 with the Republicans in the lead. If they win the Peach State elections, they will be boosted after losing the presidency and failing to flip the House. On the other hand, if the Democrats can make it 50-50, then President-elect Joe Biden will feel more assured about enforcing his agenda since Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will have the vote to break the tie. 

The upcoming elections have already witnessed a big turnout. According to state data published Thursday, December 24, nearly 2.1M people have already cast ballots, Reuters reported. Over a quarter of Georgia’s registered voters have either cast their ballots early or through mail, the data showed, indicating that the eventual turnout for the elections will be high. In the presidential election held last month, too, Georgia saw a huge turnout and Biden won the state as the first Democratic candidate since 1992. His victory margin was just 0.2 percent. 

Democrat Raphael Warnock will challenge GOP Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler (Getty Images)

In the Senate elections, GOP incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue will be challenged by Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively. The runoff polls became necessary after no candidate managed to win more than 50 percent of the votes on November 3. 

The Reuters report added that while the state releases information about the number of people who voted, it does not tally their votes until the election day. The state data said about 1.3M people voted early at in-person polling places while 721,000 sent their ballots by mail. It was also said that around 1.3M Georgians sought mail-in ballots. Voting in the Senate run-offs will conclude on January 5. 

Democrat Jon Ossoff challenges GOP Senator David Perdue in Georgia (Getty Images)

The Reuters report added that the turnout has been higher in some densely populated areas around Atlanta that gave Biden his narrow victory in November. About 30 percent of registered voters in Fulton County, which includes Atlanta, had voted on Thursday while about 32 percent of the voters showed up in the suburban DeKalb County. 

For Dems, Black/Hispanic/Asian voters key

The Associated Press reported earlier this week that for the Democrats to win control of the chamber, Georgia’s Black and smaller Hispanic and Asian communities need to turn up in large numbers. 

"There is hope that the candidacy of the Rev. Raphael Warnock, the Black senior pastor of the church where Martin Luther King Jr once preached, might help spur Black votes for both him and fellow Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff over the Republican incumbents, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue," the report said. 

An AP Press VoteCast survey of Georgia voters last month found that 22 percent of the White voters chose Warnock while 28 percent backed Ossoff, compared to 73 percent and 90 percent of the Black voters, respectively. Fifteen percent of the Black voters supported Matt Lieberman, another Democratic candidate who competed against Warnock in the November poll, and the party has an opportunity to capture those votes. 

Meanwhile, Wall Street firms conceded that markets have priced in the GOP winning at least one of the runoff races in Georgia next month, Forbes reported on Thursday. That said, if the Dems got both the seats and Harris got the tie-breaking vote, the “markets could be in for an unraveling as investors put more emphasis on the incoming administration's policy agenda”.

The GOP candidates are, however, under pressure from the supporters of their own party and allies of President Donald Trump who are still challenging the outcome of the presidential election. 

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