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Polls open in Georgia runoff elections that will determine control of US Senate for next 2 years

David Purdue, Jon Ossoff, Kelly Loeffler, Raphael Warnock
Posted at 4:21 AM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-05 10:31:45-05

Control of the U.S. Senate for the next two years will be determined today as Georgians hit the polls for two crucial Senate runoff elections.

Polls opened for the runoff elections at 7 a.m. ET in Georgia.

As it stands, the Republican Senate caucus holds a 50-48 edge over the Democrat caucus. However, if the two Democrat candidates — Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock — prevail over their Republican rivals, Democrats would hold the advantage thanks to the tie-break vote held by vice president-elect Kamala Harris.

However, it will be an uphill climb for the Democrats. The two Republican candidates — Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — are incumbents in a state that has largely voted Republican for nearly two decades.

But while Georgia has been a Republican stronghold, signs point to the state turning purple. The Peach State went for president-elect Joe Biden in the 2020 election — the first time the state went to a Democrat presidential candidate since 1992 when President Bill Clinton won his first term.

The Democratic resurgence in the state is widely credited to Stacey Abrams, a former gubernatorial candidate in 2018 who has since led a grassroots movement to register hundreds of thousands of Black and Latin voters in the state who had not voted in the past.

It’s not often that a state elects two Senators in a single year. However, when Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, stepped down due to health problems at the end of 2019, Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to fill his seat and said a special election would take place to fill the final two years of his term.

In November, Loeffler and Warnock finished as the top two vote-getters in the general election, meaning voters will choose between the two today. In the general election, Loeffler beat out fellow Republican, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Georgia, by running to his right and adopting the political stylings of Trump.

In the other race, Purdue is seeking his second term as a senator but faces a stiff challenge from Ossoff, a former journalist. Ossoff was narrowly defeated in a high-profile special election for Georgia’s sixth congressional seat in 2017.