A duo of runoff elections to be held in Georgia in two months will likely determine whether Republicans maintain majority control of the Senate or cede power to Democrats, who already control the House of Representatives.
Sens. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, Republican incumbents, will face off against Democratic challengers in runoffs scheduled for Jan. 5, 2021. None of the candidates reached the 50% threshold required under Georgia law to avoid a runoff.
Republicans will likely have to win at least one of those races to maintain majority control of the upper chamber should Joe Biden defeat Donald Trump in the presidential race, as seems likely based on vote tallies as of Friday morning.
Republicans would have to carry both runoffs if either of incumbent Sens. Thom Tillis or Dan Sullivan lose their elections in North Carolina and Alaska, respectively.
Sullivan is leading by 30 points in his race with 50% of the Alaska vote counted. The race in North Carolina has not yet been called, but Tillis leads challenger Cal Cunningham by nearly 100,000 votes with more than 90% of precincts tallied.
Perdue leads his challenger, Jon Ossoff, by two percentage points, 49.8% to 47.8%, with only 4,200 votes left to be counted as of Friday morning. A libertarian candidate who received just over two percent of the vote will not be in the runoff.
Loeffler was the top Republican vote-getter in a field of 20 candidates. She will face off against Raphael Warnock, an Atlanta-based pastor, in her runoff.
Warnock received 32.9% of the vote in the so-called jungle primary, versus Loeffler’s 26% showing. Rep. Doug Collins, a Republican, came in third in the race with 20%.
Seventeen other candidates — a mix of Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and Independents — divvied up the rest of the vote share.
Republican candidates received a slightly higher percentage of the overall vote share, 49.6-48.2%.
While the Perdue-Ossoff race has not been called, the National Republican Senatorial Committee signaled that the group expects the contest to go to a runoff.
“David Perdue won this race in regular time and will do the same in overtime. Georgians have rejected Jon Ossoff’s liberal, socialist agenda not once, not twice, but three times,” NRSC Executive Director Kevin McLaughlin said in a statement.
Should Republicans lose both runoff elections in Georgia, and if Biden wins the presidency, Democrats will have de facto control of the upper chamber, with Kamala Harris serving as a tie-breaking vote in the event of any 50-50 tie.
Republicans have ended up in a better position than most political observers expected headed into the election on Tuesday. Most polls had Maine Sen. Susan Collins losing to Democrat Sara Gideon, but the incumbent ended up winning by nearly 10 points.
Democrats also had high hopes that they could oust Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, Steve Daines in Montana, or John Cornyn in Texas.
All three coasted to victory.
Republicans, who currently have 53 seats, will lose at least one seat from their majority.
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner and Arizona Sen. Martha McSally lost to their Democratic challengers. Republicans picked up one seat in Alabama, where former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville defeated Democratic incumbent Doug Jones.
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