As it stands now, Republicans hold a 50-48 advantage in the battle for who controls the Senate.
The two races in Georgia will ultimately decide control of the Senate. Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler faces a challenge from Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock. Republican Sen. David Perdue is facing off against Democrat Jon Ossoff.
Because none of them got to 50% on Election Day in November, runoffs were scheduled for the two races for Jan. 5th, 2021, to determine the winners.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that turnout has been high so far in early voting, approaching presidential levels:
Almost as many Georgians have voted in the U.S. Senate runoffs as at the same point before the presidential election, a huge turnout that reflects the high stakes of the race.
Over 1.1 million people had voted through Thursday, most of them at early voting locations that opened across the state this week, according to state election data.
Control of the Senate is at stake. Both parties have helped generate a higher than normal interest in these races, in part, by stepping up their ground games in the closing weeks of their respective campaigns. Republicans and their affiliated groups are continuing to build on the ground game they ran in the months leading up to Election Day. At the same time, Democrats have moved to make canvassing neighborhoods a priority again after mostly relying on digital campaigns, texting, mailers, and ads before last month’s elections.
In the ad wars, Politico reports Republicans are winning:
Democrats are getting out-advertised in the Georgia Senate runoffs thanks to a megadonor-funded blitz from GOP super PACs in the races that will decide control of the Senate.
Republicans hold an overall advertising advantage across the state, largely fueled by $86 million in outside spending supporting their candidates, compared to just $30 million spent by Democratic outside groups on TV advertising so far, according to AdImpact. Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are hauling in record small-dollar cash, far ahead of GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — but not enough to own the airwaves.
Super PACs pay more per ad than candidates do, so Ossoff and Warnock have been able to blunt the GOP’s financial edge, especially in the Atlanta media market, where nearly two-thirds of people in the state reside. But GOP TV ads are running in much higher rotation in other markets, according to data from AdImpact, and the disparity has sparked concern among Democrats that the two campaigns aren’t getting enough help with control of the Senate on the line.
In addition to that, while polling in the two races remains close, Trafalgar Group – one of the more reliable pollsters out there – shows Loeffler has carved out a nearly 7-point lead over Warnock, which is outside of the MOE. They also show Perdue leading Ossoff, but that one is still tight and within the 2.9% MOE:
Our new @trafalgar_group 2020 #GASen #Runoff #poll (12/14 – 12/16) shows GOP lead:— Robert C. Cahaly (@RobertCahaly) December 19, 2020
Senate Runoff (special)
See Report: https://t.co/chWrezWXwu pic.twitter.com/xlXNxVCH9p
Though a coalition of Georgia pastors wrote an open letter to Sen. Loeffler over the weekend, claiming that using Warnock’s own words against him on issues such as his praise for President Obama’s anti-Semitic pastor Jeremiah Wright and support for abortion is an “attack against the black church,” her highlighting his radical remarks and sermons appears to be working. Loeffler is showing no signs of letting up:
No one attacked the Black church. We simply exposed your record in your own words.— Kelly Loeffler (@KLoeffler) December 20, 2020
Instead of playing the victim, start answering simple questions about what you’ve said and who you’ve associated yourself with.
If you can’t — you shouldn’t be running for U.S. Senate. https://t.co/j06y2mwlCm
The Perdue campaign, meanwhile, is still hammering Ossoff on his COVID relief bill hypocrisy and China connections:
Jon @ossoff mocked the PPP and made false claims about it even while his own father took money from the program.— John Burke (@JBurkeNation) December 20, 2020
It saved 1.5 million jobs. @Perduesenate voted for it. Ossoff attacked it. That's the contrast in this race on COVID. https://t.co/bjS8RPitDi #GASen #gapol https://t.co/e9Oyi13aPo
.@Ossoff did business with the Chinese Communist Party, he hid it, and he continues to lie and change his story in order to cover his tracks. We cannot trust him to hold China accountable. He works for them. #GASen #gapol pic.twitter.com/SXVV1uQDkU— David Perdue (@Perduesenate) December 18, 2020
Joe Biden made a campaign stop in Georgia last week on behalf of Warnock’s and Ossoff’s campaigns. President Trump announced this past Saturday that he would be in the state the day before the elections take place to campaign for Loeffler and Perdue:
As badly as we were treated in Georgia by the “Republican” Governor and “Republican” Secretary of State, we must have a massive victory for two great people, @KLoeffler & @sendavidperdue, on January 5th. I will be having a big Rally for them on Monday night, January 4th. WIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2020
In a recent newsletter, conservative Georgia commentator Erick Erickson pointed out some things that should make Republicans feel more optimistic about their chances in two weeks:
First, though they lag behind Democrats in early voting, the lag is not as dramatic as it was in the general election. In fact, if the GOP pacing holds up combined with their typical turnout in runoff elections, they should be able to offset the Democrats and win.
Second, voters who did not vote in the general election are showing up. So far, about 20,000 or so new voters who were not in the general are coming. They appear mostly in the northern suburbs of Atlanta in Republican territory.
Fourth, Ossoff continues to underperform with black voters. A lot of people think voters will show up and just vote straight D or straight R, but black voters south of Atlanta refused to vote for Ossoff, just as white voters in North Atlanta refused.
Fifth, Republican voters who think the presidential race was stolen are now showing up en masse. The President and Vice President have urged them to make one last stand and they appear to be ignoring the fringe voices in favor of the President.
Lastly, New York Democrats are continuing to unwittingly give Republican voters in Georgia more motivation to head to the polls on January 5th to keep Perdue and Loeffler in office:
This is in addition to what Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said last month about how “now we take Georgia, and then we change America” and New York Congresswoman and self-proclaimed socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez vowing to do whatever she could to help out in the Georgia Senate races so that House Democrats would no longer have to negotiate with Senate Republicans.
Should Loeffler and Perdue lose, that would make the Senate 50-50 with the tie-breaking vote going to the vice president. Assuming Joe Biden is certified as the winner of the presidential election when Congress meets to affirm the Electoral College vote on January 6th, the Senate’s tiebreaker in any 50-50 tie vote scenario would be his vice president running mate Kamala Harris.