In case you have been off enjoying the holidays, you may not be aware that the American political news cycle is as frenzied as ever. This week promises to be full of drama, as well. On Sunday, the Washington Post published a recording of a phone call between President Donald Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger in which Trump can be heard trying to pressure Raffensberger into trying to overturn Georgia’s presidential election results.
The phone call ignited yet another firestorm around the embattled president as his first and only term in office winds to a close. On Monday, the POTUS is slated to be in Georgia, where he’ll hold a campaign rally in an attempt to gin up enthusiasm for the two sitting Senators running in Tuesday’s Senate runoff.
Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are both mired in heated re-election battles against their respective Democratic challengers, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. The outcome of Tuesday’s runoff will ultimately determine which party will hold the majority in the Senate as Joe Biden prepares to replace Trump in the White House. In effect, Tuesday’s results will go a long way toward shaping how impactful Biden’s first term will be.
Both Georgia Senate races are looking like toss-ups heading into Election Day. Republicans currently hold a 50-48 majority in the Senate, but the Democrats will effectively gain power if they manage to flip both of Georgia’s seats. In that event, vice president-elect Kamala Harris will be able to vote to break any tie in the Senate once she takes office in her new post later this month.
While the Republican candidates both opened as fairly heavy favorites last November, the odds have shifted over the course of the race. MyBookie.ag has Loeffler and Warnock in a dead-heat, while Perdue’s advantage over Ossoff has slimmed considerably.
Can Loeffler Hold Off Warnock?
- Kelly Loeffler (-120)
- Raphael Warnock (-120)
Kelly Loeffler is still trying to win an election for the first time. She was appointed to replace Republican Johnny Isakson in December of 2019 when Isakson was forced to retire from the Senate. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to the job, which went against the public wishes of Trump, who endorsed a different candidate.
Regardless, Loeffler has tried desperately to cling to Trump’s coattails over the course of her campaign. On November 9, the first day new polls ahead of the runoff were published, Loeffler held a lead of about one percentage point. Warnock was able to close the gap rather quickly, and he currently checks-in as a slight polling favorite. The most recent FiveThirtyEight polls have Warnock leading Loeffler 49.6 percent to 47.6 percent.
Of course, polling should be taken with a grain of salt. Biden was crushing Trump in a number of polls leading into the presidential election, including in states like Florida, Ohio, and even Texas. Trump was able to hold onto those states in November, however, but Biden was still able to flip other key swing states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and, yes, Georgia.
While Trump is rallying for Loeffler and Perdue on Monday, Biden is set to do the same in support of the Democratic candidates.
LIVE: President-elect Biden with Jon Ossoff and Reverend Warnock in Atlanta for the FINAL rally of the campaign https://t.co/oPPsCU4cpz
— Reverend Raphael Warnock (@ReverendWarnock) January 4, 2021
While Biden pulled off the upset over Trump in the Peach State, he actually fared better than both Democratic Senate candidates. Warnock wound up accruing the most votes of any single candidate in the jungle primary for Loeffler’s seat, but Loeffler wound up splitting plenty of Republican votes with Doug Collins. Collins being ousted from the race may result in plenty of his voters shifting to Loeffler in the runoff.
Turnout in Georgia ahead of the runoffs has been massive. Historically, high turnout favors Democrats. That’s obviously good news for both Warnock and Ossoff, as Trump has spent the past couple of months railing against Georgia’s voting system. Rather than actively trying to get Loeffler and Purdue elected, Trump has been much more focused on trying to flip the results of his own election in his favor.
Whether Trump’s rantings against the voting system wind up negatively impacting Republican turnout remains to be seen. Some within the party fear that Republican turnout may not be as high without Trump on the ballot this time around.
Purdue Holding a Slight Edge Over Ossoff
- David Perdue (-130)
- Jon Ossoff (-110)
David Perdue is seeking his second term in the Senate after winning his seat back in 2015. His campaign has been marred by allegations of wrongdoing after it was discovered that he sold stock before last year’s stock market crash after he gained knowledge from a closed-doors meeting. Perdue denied wrongdoing, and it was ultimately determined that he did not violate any laws.
Perdue wound up earning more votes than Ossoff when the two squared off in the general election back in November. Because neither candidate earned at least 50 percent of the total vote, however, the race went to a runoff. Still, Perdue earned a slight majority of the votes with 2,462,617 compared to Ossoff’s 2,374,519.
From deepening the Port of Savannah, to rebuilding the military, to delivering COVID relief, I’ve been focused on getting results for ALL Georgians. pic.twitter.com/6kkHnd3aNm
— David Perdue (@sendavidperdue) January 3, 2021
Perhaps Perdue having fared better in November is the reasoning behind the sitting Senator being a slight favorite heading into the runoff. Perdue opened as a -250 favorite, however, and the race has tightened quite a bit ever since.
Those same FiveThirtyEight polls giving Warnock a two-point edge over Loeffler have Ossoff clinging to a slimmer lead over Perdue. Ossoff leads Perdue 49.3 percent to 47.9 percent. It’s worth wondering whether any of the split-ticket voters that voted in Georgia in the general election will take the same approach to the runoff.
Remember, Democrats have to win both seats in order to claim a small Senate majority. Republicans have to win at least one seat in order to maintain their majority as Biden prepares to take office.
As of this writing, Republicans are slight -130 favorites to keep control of the Senate, while Democrats are checking in at +100.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu …