All eyes on Georgia as control of Senate remains in doubt

Posted at 7:30 AM, Nov 05, 2020

Democrats felt they had a chance to win control of the Senate following the 2020 Election. And while hope is quickly evaporating after losing a few key races, Dems may still have a path to controlling the upper chamber — through Georgia.

That's because the Peach State is choosing not just one, but two new Senators in 2020. And because Georgia uses a runoff system to elect its Senators, some candidates will continue campaigning in the state for a few weeks.

In Georgia, Senate candidates need to win 50% of the vote on election day in order to secure their seats. If neither candidate reaches the 50% threshold, the top two vote-getters advance to a runoff election in early January.

This year, first-term Republican Sen. David Perdue is up for re-election and faces a stiff challenge from Democrat Jon Ossoff, who won a primary election earlier this year. Prior to election day, polls showed a tight race between the two candidates.

As of Thursday morning, Perdue currently has just barely 50% of the vote — but the margin is razor-thin and shrinking. As election officials continue to count mail-in ballots, which tend to skew blue, Democrats hope votes for Ossoff and Libertarian candidate Shane Hazel drop Perdue's vote count under the 50% margin to force a runoff.

In addition, Georgians this year were also tasked with selecting a replacement for third-term Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, who retired in 2019 due to health problems. Though businesswoman Kelly Loeffler was tapped by Gov. Brian Kemp to replace Isakson, Kemp announced that a special election would be held in 2020 so voters could select who finished Isakson's term.

Because the special election had no primary vote, it was always expected to end in a runoff. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, currently has the most votes (about 33%) among all candidates — but likely because Loeffler and Rep. Doug Collins waged an expensive inter-Republican fight for the right to compete in a runoff.

Loeffler (26%) tallied more votes than Collins (20%), meaning she'll face Warnock in a runoff election early next year.

As of Thursday morning, both the Republican and Democrat caucus hold 48 Senate seats, with four races still to be called by the Associated Press. In addition to the two Georgia races, Senate seats in Alaska and North Carolina still remain up for grabs.

Should Republicans prevail in Alaska and North Carolina, Democrats' last hope to control the Senate lies in the presidency — since the Vice President is the tiebreak vote — and in Georgia, where they could possibly net two flips in January, should Perdue's share of the votes dip under 50%.

Georgia's runoff elections will take place on Jan. 5.