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Voter Turnout Will Decide the Senate Majority

Erik Sofranko

Posted on January 3, 2021 17:15

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The two Georgia Senate runoff races will decide which party controls the Senate in the 117th Congress, and it will all depend on voter turnout.

According to the Georgia Secretary of State's Office, nearly 3 million Georgians have voted early in this year's Senate runoffs, which surpasses the record for early voting in a Georgia runoff election that occurred in 2008 when 2.1 million Georgians voted early in the runoff between Republican Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin. Voter turnout is always lower in non-presidential elections, but this year, both major parties have been making the pitch to their voters on the importance of controlling the Senate.

If either incumbent Senator David Perdue or Kelly Loeffler retain their seat, the GOP will maintain control. The Democratic Party will need both Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to prevail in order to regain control of the chamber. The key for all the candidates is to get their supporters who voted in November to turn out once again. The likely scenario at this point according to the available polling data is that there will be a split in the results. David Perdue has been consistently polling better than Kelly Loeffler and also has a considerably higher approval rating among Georgians. 

According to the highly respected polling analyst Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, Perdue and Loeffler will likely benefit from moderate Republican suburban Atlanta voters who voted for Joe Biden in the presidential election to repudiate Donald Trump but also voted to preserve a divided government. However, they will still depend on enough of the Trump voters turning out to vote for them. Without Trump on the ballot, voter turnout will likely be lower, but the gap can still be filled by moderate voters. 

Many Republicans are worried that President Trump's rhetoric over the past couple of months will lead to a lower conservative voter turnout and ultimately cost them the Senate majority. Instead of emphasizing the importance of controlling the Senate and encouraging his supporters to vote for Perdue and Loeffler, Trump has been attacking the Republican governor of Georgia Brian Kemp and Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for not corroborating his claims of voter fraud and recently called for both of their resignations. The U.S. Attorney General William Barr made it clear that Trump's claims are baseless. Many Republicans feel that this feud has put a fracture in the Georgia GOP and will lead many conservative voters to not vote. 

No matter the outcomes of the Georgia Senate runoffs, gridlock in Washington D.C. will likely continue for at least the next two years as both chambers of Congress will be more closely divided than they have been in over half a century, which means it would only take a few defectors from each party to block their own leadership's agenda. 

Erik Sofranko

Posted on January 3, 2021 17:15

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