On January 5, the US state of Georgia will again vote on who to send to the Senate.
Control of the Senate is at stake, and therefore the prospects for the Biden administration, at least for the next two years.
As millions of dollars and hundreds of activists fall into the state, here is an explanation of what is happening.
What is at risk?
There are two seats up for grabs.
Republicans occupy 50 of the 100 seats and Democrats 48. There are 46 formally aligned with the party and two independents, Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who are part of the Democrats. When there is a 50-50 tie, the vice president casts the deciding vote. That will be Democrat Kamala Harris after the Biden administration takes office on January 20.
If Democrats can win both seats, they will control the Senate.
A majority in the Senate is crucial in deciding a series of legislative changes, cabinet appointments, possible presidential impeachments, and supreme court nominations. Republicans have controlled the Senate since 2014.
Democrats have a majority in the House, so a Democratic majority in the Senate would make Joe Biden’s next two years much easier. By contrast, a Republican-controlled Senate under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could block much of his agenda, just as it did with former President Barack Obama’s. Biden has a history of compromise attempts across the aisle and could attempt to attract one or more Republicans on individual votes, but given McConnell’s history of filibuster, it seems like a distant prospect.
With so much pending the outcome, money has been pouring into the state to support both parties. In mid-December, more than $ 400 million was spent on political ads, most of it for the two Republicans.
Who are the candidates?
Both Georgia seats are contested between a Democratic and a Republican candidate.
One race pits Republican David Perdue, incumbent senator since 2015, against Democrat Jon Ossof, a former journalist, who is only 33 years old.
Their battle has been scathing at times, Ossof repeatedly calling Perdue a criminal and referring to investigations into Perdue’s alleged insider trading.
But Perdue has for the most part not taken the bait, declining to meet with Ossof at their televised debate scheduled earlier this month, leaving Ossof to make his points on an empty podium.
The other race, much more colorful, is between Republican Kelly Loeffler, a very wealthy former businesswoman, and Democrat Raphael Warnock.
Warnock, who aspires to become Georgia’s first black senator, is pastor of the Atlanta church, where Martin Luther King held the same position. A longtime civil rights advocate, he is a powerful speaker in the King tradition and a strong supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.
As a result, she has been denounced as a “radical liberal” by her opponent, Loeffler, at every opportunity possible, but has responded by disarming the campaign ads by accusing Loeffler of having nothing positive to say about herself and emphasizing how much do you love the puppies.
Loeffler came into controversy when she criticized the players of the WNBA team that owns – the Atlanta Dream – for supporting Black Lives Matter, saying that BLM had “Marxist foundations.”
Loeffler is also technically incumbent: She was named interim senator on Jan. 6 after former Republican Senator Johnny Isakson resigned due to health problems.
Why are they runoff?
Georgia state law requires a runoff in both elections because no candidate in either seat reached 50% in the November election.
For the Loeffler-Warnock seat, the vacancy was created by the resignation of a sitting senator.
This meant that the November vote was contested by 20 people, in what is known as a “blanket” or “jungle” primary, that is, it almost always went to a second round, passing the first two of the first round. In that general primary, Loeffler also faced stiff competition from moderate Republican Congressman Doug Collins, and Warnock ran against a number of Democrats.
Warnock led the overall primaries with 32.9%, Loeffler was second with 25.9% and Collins was third with 19.95%. The first two, Warnock and Loeffler, advanced to the second round.
In the other seat, contested by Perdue and Ossof, 2.32% of the votes obtained by the candidate of the Libertarian party Shane T Hazel was enough to ensure that none of the main candidates of the party reached 50% in a close contest: Perdue received 49.73% and Oss 47.95%. .
Who can win?
A Democrat hasn’t won a Senate race in Georgia in 20 years, so the odds of winning two at the same time don’t look very good.
However, Biden won the state in the November presidential election, the first time in 30 years that a Democratic candidate did.
How the outcome of the presidential race will affect the second round is anyone’s guess. Will traditionally Republican voters who rejected Donald Trump return to the party to ensure that Biden’s agenda is tempered by Republican control of the Senate? Or will Trump’s insistence on continuing the campaign in Georgia on the grounds that the election was a fraud, and linking Senate candidates to that cause, again motivate Democratic voters to participate in large numbers?
As in presidential elections, voting is not mandatory, so turnout will be a major concern for both sides.
Some younger voters will be able to vote in January. Anyone who turns 18 on or before January 5 is eligible to vote. according to the Georgia Voter Guide. Voter registration closed on December 7.
What do the polls say?
As of December 24, the survey average compiled by Five thirty eight Perdue had Perdue ahead of Ossof by 0.5%, but Warnock led Loeffler by 0.6%. Real Clear Politics on December 22 gave Republicans slightly better numbers, with Lose up to 1% and Loeffler by 0.2%But the numbers for Democrats improved over the past week with both agencies.
Both voting teams came under sustained criticism for the presidential election when they drastically underestimated Republican support in some states.
When will we know the result?
It depends on how close the races are. The first Ossof-Perdue race in November was so close that the result was not known for three days, but in most circumstances the result should be apparent overnight.
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