Georgia flipped blue for the first time since the 1992 presidential race, making the senate runoff races critical for Republicans who want to maintain control of the Senate and retain significant power in the political arena.
Here’s what’s going on.
Incumbent Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue and Democratic challengers Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are set to face off on Jan. 5. Typically a Republican state, the stakes are significantly higher following the contested election results in the state and President Donald Trump’s insistence that the election was rigged, including in Georgia.
President Trump in Georgia: “You know we won Georgia, just so you understand.” pic.twitter.com/4U13zSHdrm
— VINnews (@VINNews) December 6, 2020
With some of his voting base aligning themselves with the idea that the election was rigged, there has been concern that Republicans might refuse to vote in the race in an act of defiance.
However, Trump’s loss might serve as a rallying cry for Georgia Republicans to get out and vote.
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have urged supporters to get out and vote, using ads and warning voters that if they sit this one out, there is too much at stake.
PLAYING NOW AT THE TRUMP RALLY IN GEORGIA! pic.twitter.com/NbEweAEfBs
— Team Trump (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@TeamTrump) December 6, 2020
While speaking at a rally in Georgia in early December, Trump warned that Republicans had to vote to avoid “one-party” control.
“If the other side manages to steal both [Senate] elections, we will have total one-party socialist control, and everything you care about – your whole philosophy– will be gone,” Trump said, followed by chants of “stop the steal.”
Pence also made a stop in Georgia Thursday afternoon, telling voters that while they may be upset over the presidential election outcome, it is not a reason to sit out the upcoming runoff race. (RELATED: Judge Denies Georgia GOP Lawsuit That Sought To Eliminate Voting Drop Boxes In Runoff)
“Now I know we’ve all got doubts about the last election,” Pence said. “That is why we’re going to keep right on fighting. But I got to tell you, and I hear some people saying down here in Georgia, you’re frustrated about the last election, just don’t vote.”
“My fellow Americans, I can say from my heart, you’ve got to remember, if you don’t vote for him, they win. If you don’t vote, there could be nothing to stop Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi from advancing their radical left agenda, cutting the military, raising taxes, trampling on our values.”
And despite concerns that Republican voters are dissuaded to vote in the upcoming race out of spite of the presidential results, it appears Republican enthusiasm is in full swing.
“Everyone that I’m around, we’re ready to vote now,” a 57-year-old businesswoman said while awaiting a GOP rally for the candidates, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group which canvasses GOP-leaning voters, said people don’t seem to be counting this race out, according to the report.
“There are people who are discouraged about (Trump) losing Georgia or being behind. But I haven’t talked to people who’ve said, ‘Oh, the heck with this, it’s all rigged anyway.'”
Meanwhile some fear that there will be low voter turnout among Democrats.
“This election is not a continuation of what happened in November,” Cobb County Democratic Party chairwoman Jacquelyn Bettadapur said Monday, according to CBS. “It’s a complete reset. It’ll have a different character. It’ll have lower turnout, most likely.”
“We always see lower turnouts in runoff elections and in special elections,” she added, according to the report. “We are primarily interested in just turning out any Democrat who voted in November. That’s our target audience, expecting that we will have closer to 50% turnout than the 70% turnout we had overall in November.”
A recent poll from Emerson College shows both Republican candidates narrowly leading their Democratic competitors by three percentage points. However, Ossoff and Warnock appear to lead in urban and suburban areas.
“The data revealed there is little crossover support, which suggests one party should win both seats,” Spencer Kimball, Director of Emerson College Polling said.
When it comes to the candidates themselves, negative news about Warnock’s past has flooded the election.
Warnock once vowed to “dismantle the value system” of the American “empire.”
???? Here’s Raphael Warnock urging his church to join him in “dismantling the value system of the American empire” in a 2017 speech: pic.twitter.com/tlv2U7biAm
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) December 16, 2020
He also preached in 2016 that Christianity was a “socialist church,” a phrase which could turn voters who are wary of socialism away. In 2013 he said Farrakhan’s ‘Nation of Islam’ was ‘important’ to ‘black theology.’ The Nation of Islam is labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.