- Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock will compete for a Georgia Senate seat in a runoff election on January 5.
- Neither candidate was able to secure more than 50% of the vote in November 3’s jungle special election, where candidates of all parties ran on the same ballot.
- Loeffler’s other main challenger, Republican Rep. Doug Collins, conceded the election via Twitter at around 10:30 p.m. the night of the election.
- See the live coverage and full results from the US Senate elections.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler will face off against Democratic challenger Raphael Warnocki in a runoff election for Georgia’s Senate seat in January. Neither candidate was able to secure more than 50% of the vote on Election Day.
Both Loeffler and Warnock pulled ahead of Republican Rep. Doug Collins, who conceded the election via Twitter at around 10:30 p.m. ET the night of the election.
I just called @kloeffler and congratulated her on making the runoff. She has my support and endorsement. I look forward to all Republicans coming together. Raphael Warnock would be a disaster for Georgia and America.
— Doug Collins (@CollinsforGA) November 4, 2020
Polls in Georgia were delayed due to problems in several counties, including late-arriving staff, power outages, and polling machine issues. Polls in Spalding County were the last to close at 11 p.m. ET.
Loeffler, a wealthy businesswoman and political newcomer, was appointed to the seat by Gov. Brian Kemp to replace former Sen. Johnny Isakson, who resigned from office in December 2019 before the end of his term over his declining health. She is backed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the official campaign arm of Senate Republicans.
Kemp reportedly selected Loeffler for the position based on the level of personal wealth she could contribute to her own campaign (she and her husband, Intercontinental Exchange and New York Stock Exchange chairman Jeff Sprecher, are together worth an estimated $US500 million), and her potential to win over suburban female voters.
In November 3’s jungle special election, candidates from all parties competed on the same ballot to elect a Senator to serve out the rest of Isakson’s term until 2022. Since no candidate captured over 50% of the vote, the race will go to a January 5, 2021 runoff between Loeffler and Ebenezer Baptist Church pastor Raphael Warnock, the two highest-performing candidates.
Warnock was backed early on by the DSCC, the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm. He gained considerable momentum in the weeks leading up to the election.
On the Republican side, his other main opponent was Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee who served as a staunch and impassioned defender of President Donald Trump during his impeachment hearings.
Collins, who represents a seat in rural Georgia, seized on Loeffler’s various controversies to attack her as an out-of-touch multi-millionaire, and recently came after her for having an Andy Warhol print of Chinese communist Mao Zedong in her home.
Collins and Loeffler were also battling to earn endorsements from various Trumpworld figures. Loeffler was recently endorsed by former acting Director of National Intelligence and US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grennell, while Collins picked up the endorsement of Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor who was later charged in the Mueller probe.
Going into the election, Democrats hoped to regain control of the US Senate for the first time since 2015.
All the competitive races for US Senate were shaped by the high-stakes confirmation battle to replace 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 more than 230,000 American lives.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch 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 Loeffler, and played a significant role in accelerating Warnock’s trajectory, giving him a much better shot of breaking through.
Warnock was one of many Democrats to benefit from a windfall in campaign donations after Justice Ginsburg’s death, and picked up a coveted endorsement from former President Barack Obama, who cut an ad for Warnock and campaigned in-person in Georgia.
Georgia is also rapidly trending from red to purple, thanks to its fast-growing Atlanta metro area, presenting a prime opportunity for Democrats.
Not only have both presidential candidates invested in the state, but Democrats are making a play to unseat Sen. David Perdue in Georgia’s other US Senate election, where Jon Ossoff is the Democratic nominee, and looking to flip the open seat in Georgia’s 7th Congressional District in the Atlanta suburbs.
The money race
Loeffler led the rest of the field by a significant margin in receipts thanks to her significant personal wealth. Warnock led the field in fundraising from other donors, according to the Centre for Responsive Politics.
Warnock has raised $US21.9 million, spent $US16.4 million, and has $US5.5 million in cash on hand, while Collins’ Senate campaign has brought in $US6.3 million (including a $US1.4 transfer from his House campaign account), spent $US4.8 million, and has $US1.4 million in cash on hand.
In total, Loeffler brought in $US28.2 million so far this cycle, $US23 million of which is directly from personal loans she made to her own campaign, Federal Election Commission records show. She has spent $US22.3 million, and has $US5.9 million in cash on hand.
In 2020’s third fundraising quarter, Warnock was the top fundraiser, bringing in $US12.9 million compared to $US7.2 million for Loeffler ($US5 million of which was self-funded) and a $US2.4 million haul for Collins, Roll Call reported.
What the polling said
Throughout the first part of 2020, most special election polls showed Loeffler leading the field, but the combination of Justice Ginsburg’s death propelling a surge of momentum for Democratic Senate candidates nationwide and Obama’s endorsement rapidly boosted Warnock’s performance in the polls.
Ahead of November 3, Warnock led the rest of the special election field by over 14 percentage points on average in RealClearPolitics poll averages.
A recent Landmark Communications poll released October 28 found Warnock in the lead with the support of 37% of likely voters compared to 25% for Loeffler and 23% for Collins.
A Public Policy Polling survey conducted October 27 also found Warnock with a big lead, earning the support of 46% of likely voters, with 27% backing Loeffler and 19% backing Collins.
Another recent Monmouth University poll conducted from October 23-27 found 41% of high likely turnout voters supporting Warnock compared to 22% for Loeffler and 19% for Collins.
What some experts said
The Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Centre for Politics rated the special election as a tossup, while Inside Elections rated it as “tilts Republican.”
According to FiveThirtyEight’s US Senate forecasting model, Warnock had a 63% chance of winning the special election while one of the Republican candidates, Loeffler or Collins, had a 37% chance.
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