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The Georgia Senate runoff races take place Tuesday Jan. 5, two months after the election.

The chaos of the 2020 election has seemed to interpose the new year, with the Georgia runoff election taking the spotlight. 

There is not one, but two, Senate runoff elections that will take place Jan. 5 and the outcome will determine what party controls the Senate.

In Georgia, state law requires a winning candidate to earn 50 percent of votes. If no candidate receives a majority vote, the two front-runners battle for the seat in a runoff after the election. Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue will face off again against Democratic challenges Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

Since the front-running candidates fell short of the requirement, Georgians have been in an election-land limbo for the last two months. Almost $500 million has been spent on advertising between the two races, according to NPR.

Democrats need to win both seats, along with the tiebreaker vote of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to put them at a razor-thin 51-50 majority. 

If Democrats win only one of the seats, a vote from Harris would create a tie. Mack Shelley, chairman of the political science department, said unlike some sports, a tied vote loses in politics. 

While President-elect Joe Biden won the state the Senate races are expected to be tight, as Georgia has a long history of Republican power.

“It is pretty much guaranteed based on polling results and boots on the ground chatter that this is likely to be a high turnout race with a low margin of victory for someone content,” Shelley said. 

Shelley said it is not impossible these races could have the same fate as the presidential election followed by recounts and lawsuits. Recently, President Donald Trump spent over an hour on the phone with election officials in Georgia urging them to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat.

After failed legal attempts to overturn the election results, Trump continues to take to Twitter pushing baseless claims of fraudulent activity. Shelley said in his last weeks in office, Trump could do the same for the Senate contest. 

If controversies trail the races, Shelley said it could be a few weeks before results are settled but this wouldn’t be the first time. In 2008, the Senate race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman was followed by eight months of legal battles. 

If disputes occur over the two races, the seats will remain vacant until decided, granting Republicans the majority until then.

“The background of all this is the really profound issue is who is going to control the U.S. Senate,thereforewho is going to be in the position to help control the flow of legislation,” Shelley said. “This is of importance for both of the major parties.”

With a slim majority in the House, a Republican-controlled Senate would only make passing legislation all the more difficult for the Biden presidency. 

Chuck Klapatauska is a junior studying mechanical engineering and the president of Young Americans for Freedom. Klapatauska said while there are eyes on this race, the main focus he has observed for Iowa State Conservatives is what is happening in Iowa.

“I want to see the petty politics go away and hope no matter who wins, they move together and forward and put the last four to six years of the craziness behind us,” Klapatauska said. “I think everybody is tired of the bicker and political nonsense, especially as the pandemic rages on.”

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