- The race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Sen. David Perdue for the US Senate in Georgia will go to a January runoff.
- Ossoff – an investigative journalist and the 2017 Democratic nominee for the high-profile special election in Georgia’s 6th District – is challenging Perdue’s bid for a second term.
- While Georgia has been considered a Republican stronghold for decades, the tide in the state is shifting in Democrats’ favour thanks to the fast-expanding Atlanta metro area.
- See the live coverage and full results from the U.S. Senate elections.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Sen. David Perdue for a seat US Senate election in Georgia will go to a runoff in January, Insider and Decision Desk HQ can report.
The race was too close to call early Wednesday morning with more than 99% of the votes tallied, according to Decision Desk HQ. Though Perdue appeared to hold a sizable lead over Ossoff, Georgia has lagged behind in counting absentee ballots, which tend to lean toward Democrats, in Fulton County (where a burst pipe flooded a facility).
Decision Desk HQ called the race at 6:59 p.m. ET on Thursday, and announced that a runoff would occur in January as neither candidate received over 50% of the vote.
Ossoff is an investigative journalist, business owner, and Georgia native. Before running for US Senate, he was the 2017 Democratic nominee for the high-profile special election in Georgia’s 6th District, which he ultimately lost. Ossoff launched his US Senate campaign in September 2019, and cleared the competitive primary field to avoid a runoff for the nomination on June 9.
Ossoff’s campaign platform emphasises expanding access to affordable healthcare and protecting Social Security, combatting climate change and investing in green infrastructure, and supporting small businesses.
Perdue, a wealthy businessman and consultant who previously served as the CEO of Reebok and chair and CEO of Dollar General, was first elected in 2014, and is now running for a second term. In Congress, Perdue serves on the Committees on Armed Services, Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Budget, and Foreign Relations.
While Perdue hasn’t been as much of a firebrand as some other GOP Senators up for reelection this year, his official Senate website touts that he is an “early supporter of President Donald J. Trump and continues to be one of the President’s closest allies in the US Senate.” He’s voted in lockstep with Trump 95% of the time since 2017, according to FiveThirtyEight.
In addition to winning back the White House, regaining control of the US Senate for the first time since 2015 is a top priority for Democrats and would be a major accomplishment toward either delivering on a future president Joe Biden’s policy goals or thwarting President Donald Trump’s second-term agenda.
Currently, the US Senate is made up of 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and two independents who caucus with Democrats. Democrats need to win back a net total of four seats to have a 51-seat majority. (If Biden wins, his vice president would also serve as president of the Senate and would be a tie-breaker vote.)
Just eight days before the election, the US Senate concluded a high-stakes confirmation battle to fill a Supreme Court seat left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died at age 87 from pancreatic cancer on September 18, with Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
Ginsburg’s death threw a stick of dynamite into an already supercharged election shaped by a deadly pandemic that has so far claimed over 230,000 American lives.
Trump’s and McConnell’s posturing on the issue excited conservatives enthusiastic about the president getting to appoint a third justice in his first term, but infuriated liberals who accused McConnell of blatant hypocrisy after he refused to hold confirmation proceedings for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016.
McConnell’s quest to confirm a new justice before the end of Trump’s first term put the chamber on a collision course with the reelection hopes of many vulnerable Republican Senators, including Perdue.
While Georgia has been considered a safe Republican stronghold for decades, the tide in the state is shifting in Democrats’ favour primarily because of the fast-expanding Atlanta metro area.
The counties surrounding Atlanta, including Cobb and Gwinnett counties, have been rapidly gaining population and trending toward Democrats in recent election cycles. And the confluence of Trump’s unpopularity and the pandemic â€” which has hit Georgia hard â€” could make the state even more competitive than ever.
Both the Biden and Trump campaigns have invested big in Georgia, another indication of how the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the Electoral College map toward Democrats. In the final week of the campaign, both Biden and former President Barack Obama went to the state to campaign.
Biden now leads Trump by just 1.2 points on average in polls of the state, according to FiveThirtyEight’s polling averages.
Georgia has two US Senate elections in 2020. In addition to the Ossoff-Purdue race, Sen. Kelly Loeffler is running for a full term in a “jungle” special election where candidates from both parties compete on the same ballot and the top two advance to a runoff. Loeffler was appointed to serve out the rest of former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term after Isakson resigned his seat because of health problems in December 2019.
Georgia is a runoff state, meaning that if no candidate earns over 50% of the vote in either US Senate race, the top two vote-getters will go to a runoff election to be held on January 5.
The money race
Ossoff has proved himself to be a talented fundraiser in this election and in his 2017 race. While he started out his general-election race against Perdue at a significant cash disadvantage, Ossoff worked briskly to not only close the gap, but pull far ahead of his incumbent.
According to campaign-finance records, Ossoff has raised $US32.8 million, spent $US28.6 million, and has $US4.1 million in cash on hand for this cycle as of October 14. Meanwhile, Perdue has raised $US17.9 million, spent $US13.8 million, and has $US5.8 million in cash on hand.
In 2020’s third fundraising quarter, Ossoff brought in an impressive haul of $US21.3 million, a haul that came out to three times more than the $US7 million Perdue’s campaign raised in the same timeframe.
What the polling says
The most recent polls show a tight race between Perdue and Ossoff with many results well within margins of error. Ossoff leads Perdue by just 0.7 percentage points on average in RealClearPolitics’ polling averages.
The most recent poll of the race conducted by Landmark Communications found Perdue leading Ossoff 49% to 47% among likely voters. A Public Policy Polling survey conducted October 27-28 found Ossoff leading Perdue by 3 points, 47% to 44% among likely voters, and a Monmouth University survey conducted October 23-27 found Ossoff ahead of Perdue by two points, 49% to 47%, among high likely turnout voters.
What some of the experts said
The Cook Political Report, Inside Elections, and Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Centre for Politics all rated the race as a toss-up.
According to FiveThirtyEight, Perdue had a 57% chance of defeating Ossoff in the November election and was expected to receive 49.3% of the popular vote.
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