(CNN) — The two special elections to the United States Senate in Georgia mean everything to the American government for the next two years.
President-elect Joe Biden will have a Republican-led Senate working to block him or a Senate (barely) controlled by Democrats trying to help him. And Tuesday’s election will determine whether Republicans have the upper hand or if there is a 50-50 split, giving Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the upper hand for Democrats.
But it is not clear how quickly we will know the results. CNN took until Nov. 13 to project Biden’s victory in the Georgia presidential race, 10 days after Election Day.
There are many reasons to expect this to repeat itself. Early voting, the recount of which helped prolong the presidential results, is almost the same in this special election. In Fulton County, the state’s most populous, the elections administrator said Monday that early vote totals were higher for January than for November.
State Republicans have raised concerns that there may be a Democratic lead in early vote totals. Which means Republicans may need a strong showing again on Election Day.
That’s where President Donald Trump’s feud with Republican state officials over his own defeat in the state could make the difference for the Republican Party to have a majority in the future.
CNN’s Ethan Cohen and Caroline Tounget analyzed where the lead changed as presidential votes were counted in the state during those 10 days:
At 7:16 p.m. on election night, when the first significant votes were reported, Biden jumped to an early lead with nearly 62% of the vote. Only 2% of the estimated vote had been reported.
The lead rose and fell over the next hour, but Trump went ahead at 8:07 p.m., with 10% of the reports.
Early Wednesday morning, Biden began to beat Trump and finally beat him at 4:48 a.m. on Friday, November 6, according to the vote count.
Biden ultimately won by just under 12,000 votes.
Actually, it was 11,779. Trump has had that number etched into his brain ever since he specifically asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in his phone call last weekend to “find” one more, 11,780 votes, enough to win the election.
While legal and constitutional experts wonder if there is criminal liability for Trump’s pressure on state officials to change the results, the other end result of his war with his party’s Georgia officials could be low turnout when the Republican Party needs it most.
Gabriel Sterling, the administrator of Georgia’s electoral systems, told a news conference Monday that the best thing for people frustrated by the presidential results would be to vote Tuesday.
“If you are a Georgia voter, if you want your values to be reflected in your elected officials, I strongly urge and encourage you: Go vote tomorrow. Don’t let anyone put you off. Don’t hold back your own vote. Don’t make this a self-fulfilling prophecy. Don’t let anyone steal your vote that way, ”Sterling said. “That is what will happen if you repress yourself: you will be drawing your important voice from this choice.”
Much depends on the results in Georgia
The economy. The size and scope of recovery efforts will depend on who controls the Senate. Democratic victories would likely mean more from the government, writes CNN’s Matt Egan.
“A landslide victory for the Democrats would open the door to more powerful fiscal stimulus than the shaky economy could very well need. But it would also increase the risk of corporate tax increases that investors despise. ‘
Biden’s ability to rule. His ability to get the people he wants into his cabinet and in other key roles is entirely up to the Senate. One reason we do not yet know his choice for attorney general is that Biden does not know if it will be a Republican or Democratic majority that will vote to confirm it.
Oversight of Congress and Biden. A Democratic majority will mean far less combative oversight, at least early in the Biden administration. It would also hamper efforts by Republicans to attack him for his son’s previous business, Trump’s main attack in 2020.
About that phone call
Since it became clear that Trump lost the election, he has been actively and openly trying to get state officials to ignore the results, a plan that was almost too brazen and undemocratic to believe.
What’s worse than openly trying to circumvent the election results is quietly asking state officials to change them and “seek” new votes two months after the election he lost. It turns out that what Trump does behind closed doors is worse than what he does open.
I encourage you to read the transcript of Trump’s call with Georgia officials as well as fact-checking their claims. These make a few things clear:
The president is very focused on weathering his electoral defeat and staying in power. If you think Trump is quietly working behind the scenes against COVID, which is killing an American every 33 seconds, the transcript of this call should make things clear for you.
He has no interest in listening to anyone else. Despite the best efforts of Raffensperger, who was respectful of Trump but adamant in dismissing his theories, the president dominated the conversation and nearly threatened Raffensperger and his deputy.
He learned nothing from impeachment. For those senators who defended Trump and said he had learned his lesson and would no longer use his office to pressure people for political favors, this must be a bitter pill. That one year after fighting impeachment, Trump pressed a state official for votes is proof that the tiger never changes its stripes.
Imagine all the calls that we will never hear of and the pressure put on officials less scrupulous than those in Georgia.
In addition to fearing what Trump is capable of, this is also a time to marvel at the strength of the American system, which has so far resisted all his anti-democratic efforts. What is unclear is whether any law enforcement agency, the FBI or the Fulton County prosecutor, will turn this into a criminal case. Note: Prosecutions of former presidents are possible but have not occurred in modern times. It would be divisive and time consuming.
Trump’s first punishment will come on January 20, when he has to leave the White House.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism