In another blow to US president Donald Trump and his Republican Party, the Democratic Party is set to win the two Senate seats in Georgia that went for a run-off on January 5. After over 98 percent of the votes counted, Democratic Party’s candidate Raphael Warnock is set to win the special senate election, while their other candidate Jon Ossoff is leading by a margin of more than 16,000 votes.
Warnock stood against Republican appointee Kelly Loeffler for a special election, necessitated by the resignation of the last elected senator, Johnny Isakson. Ossoff on the other hand stood against another Republican incumbent David Perdue, who was seeking re-election to the seat. Both the Democratic candidates ran on a platform for expanding pandemic relief and increasing stimulus checks for families and small businesses.
The Republican campaign on the other hand focused on attacking their opponents with fear-mongering claims of being leftists and joined the bandwagon of Trump’s attempt at overturning the presidential election outcome. Both Perdue and Loeffler promised, on Monday, to object the certification process on Wednesday, January 6, when the Congress will officially tally the electoral college votes and declare the results.
If Ossoff’s lead holds, the run-offs will be a major victory for the Democrats who have been hoping to end the six-year-old hold the Republicans have on the Senate. With two new seats, the Senate will be divided right down the middle with parties set to hold 50 seats each. With vice-president-elect Kamala Harris, set to preside the Senate, and with the power to vote in cases of a deadlock, the Democrats will effectively hold control of the chamber, and consequently the Congress.
In the high-pitched election campaign, that involved both president Donald Trump and president-elect Biden, the two parties together spent more than USD 800 million on the four candidates, making it the most expensive congressional election in US history.
The election also saw a record turnout, with a significant spike in African-American voters. According to reports over three million votes were cast in early voting, while African-American vote share went up from 27 percent in November, to nearly 33 percent in the run-offs. This spike in black votes is widely credited as the reason for the results turning in favor of the Democrats.
The runoff results, along with the recently concluded presidential election, is also historically significant for Georgia, which has been voting right-wing candidates in presidential and governor elections since the late-90s. Even though the state was seen as a key battleground state in the general election that concluded on November 3, 2020, the state has been consistently voting Republicans to power for over 15 years.
The Republicans have held a trifecta – the Governor’s office and the two houses of the state general assembly – since 2005, and have held most of the Senate and House of Representatives seats in the state for the past two decades. With the Democratic nominee, Biden, winning the presidential elections in November and the senator seats flipping to the Democrats, the state has witnessed a remarkable shift in its political landscape, in the past few months.