Democrat Jon Ossoff has defeated incumbent Sen. David Perdue, a Republican, in Georgia’s Tuesday runoff election, according to the Associated Press. This race, along with the concurrent runoff election between Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock and incumbent Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, which Warnock won, were both the most consequential and the most expensive Senate races in history.
After calling Georgia’s other Senate race for Warnock early Wednesday morning, most media outlets considered the Ossoff/Perdue race too close to call until late Wednesday afternoon. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press declared Ossoff the victor, securing 50.3 percent of the votes to Perdue’s 49.7 percent, narrowly exceeding the 0.5 percent margin that under Georgia state law would prompt a recount.
Ossoff’s victory is particularly consequential, as it grants Democrats their 50th seat in the Senate and, with power of the Vice President to cast a tie-break vote, majority status for the first time in six years. With both the presidency and House of Representatives to be controlled by Democrats, President-elect Joe Biden will have significantly more latitude to implement his legislative agenda.
“There is alway hope but if you got a majority in the Senate or even a tie, which this would be, you are golden because you can then work with the President and the house,” said Steffen Schmidt, emeritus professor of Political Science at Iowa State University. “Having the House, Senate and President is a pretty darn good situation.”
Georgia’s senate races went to a runoff election after neither candidate in either race secured more than fifty percent of the vote in November’s election. With Georgia unexpectedly voting for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1992, and control of the Senate hanging in the balance, the runoff elections attracted national attention and became the most expensive in US history.
Georgia is one of a handful of states that President Trump won in 2016 which voted for Biden in 2020, and has been a focus of the baseless conspiracy theories revolving around voter fraud and election stealing that Trump, his allies and his supporters have been touting since the election.
Many have credited the Democratic sweep of Georgia’s statewide offices to activist and former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, whose grassroots organization helped turn out black voters who had previously been ignored and suppressed.
“You have people leaving New England and Pennsylvania and those voters tend to be more liberal and moderate,” Schmidt said.
Republicans in Georgia have cast blame on President Trump for the election loss, citing his narrative of election fraud as a source of depressed Republican turnout. In the days immediately before Tuesday’s election, a leaked recording of a phone call showed Trump pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger to find enough votes to change the outcome in the state and overturn the results of the presidential election.
The AP's call of the race came as a mob toting Trump 2020 banners and confederate flags stormed and occupied the US Capitol, causing the evacuation of the House and Senate and temporarily halting the certification of electoral votes.