The tide of mailed-in ballots that have closed the gap in Georgia for Joe Biden have also beaten down Senator David Perdue’s share of the vote in his bid for reelection to less than 50%. In Georgia, if no candidate gets over 50%, the top two candidates go to a runoff. Unless Perdue’s share reverses course at the last second and climbs back above 50%, he and Jon Ossoff, the second-place finisher, will go to a runoff election January 5th. On that same runoff ballot, unusually, will be Georgia’s other Senate seat, currently warmed by Republican Kelly Loeffler, an appointee. Her challenger is Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock, who garnered the most votes in a field of 20.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Senate is currently tied at 48-48, with two other races un-called, in North Carolina and Alaska. The Alaska seat will almost certainly go to the incumbent Republican Dan Sullivan, and the North Carolina seat is fairly likely to remain with incumbent Republican Thom Tillis. If those results hold up, the Senate will sit at 50-48 for the Republicans, with the Georgia runoffs determining whether the Senate ends up 52-48, 51-49, or 50-50.
Control of the Senate is riding on these two races. Expect money to shower down on Georgia for the next two months; it will be sixty days of rainy nights. I imagine Trump will rally there three nights/week, Obama will buy a house in Buckhead, Joe and Kamala will eat a lot of peaches, and Stacey Abrams, the engineer of the Dems remarkable resurgence in Georgia, will marshal her troops for another round of voter registration and then turnout. Voter registration is open again until December 5. Mitch McConnell will spare nothing to save his incumbents and his own gig as Majority Leader. This is going to be a cage match with the potential to be very consequential, lit up by enormous political and financial firepower. Brace yourselves, Georgians, and feel the love.
On paper, the Republicans appear to have a slight edge: they are the incumbents, Perdue is leading Ossoff by 2 points, and the third-leading vote-getter (2.3%) is the Libertarian candidate, so perhaps his voters are likely to lean toward Perdue. In the other race, Warnock leads Loeffler, with the rest of the votes split between 18 (!) other candidates, mostly Democrats and Republicans, plus 4 Independents, a Libertarian, and a Green. Total Republican votes top total Democratic votes by 1 point in that race. Those Republican advantages are not very big, relative to resources about to be unleashed on Georgia. The best the Republicans can hope for is to end up with a 52-48 edge in the Senate, one less than they have now. The Democrats are playing for control, by a whisper thin margin.