The Slatest

Warnock Defeats Loeffler; Ossoff on the Brink of Completing Democratic Georgia Senate Sweep

Raphael Warnock waves during a rally while wearing a mask that reads "vote" and standing in front of the Georgia state flag.
Raphael Warnock during a rally on Monday. Jim Watson/Getty Images

Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock has defeated incumbent Kelly Loeffler in one of the two Georgia runoffs Tuesday, leaving control of the Senate to the race between Jon Ossoff and incumbent Republican David Perdue. The Associated Press called the Warnock-Loeffler race around 2 a.m., as Warnock’s lead grew to more than 40,000 votes, or .5 precent, with votes from the Atlanta area, a Democratic stronghold, still to be counted. By 5 a.m., with 98 percent of the vote in the books, Warnock’s lead had grown to a full point, a close but significant difference considering the exceedingly slim margin—less than 12,000 votes—that decided the presidential race in November.

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Control of the Senate, and the governing capacity of the incoming Biden administration, now comes down to the final votes in Ossoff-Perdue race. Ossoff has not performed quite as well as Warnock, despite, like the Republicans, running across the state as a tandem, but still leads Perdue as of 5 a.m. by more than 16,000 votes. Ossoff has tallied 18,500 fewer votes than Warnock, accounting for the roughly half-point difference in the two races, but the overall turnout of the two races is, as you’d expect, virtually identical (with a less than 100-vote difference). So there has been some not insignificant ticket-splitting given how evenly divided the state appears to be at the moment.

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The trend lines for Ossoff, however, are positive. The Decision Desk HQ parsed the numbers and weighed in early, projecting an Ossoff win.

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We’re not quite there yet, and without getting too far ahead of ourselves, one subplot, beyond the outcome of the Ossoff race, is the margin of victory. Judging by the past two months of Trumpian legal insanity trying to count and recount, sue and resue, his way to staying in the White House, the race seems destined for enhanced scrutiny. The state’s threshold for an automatic recount is .5 percent, a hurdle, which if Ossoff can clear, would help fortify his victory ahead of surefire GOP legal onslaught. But, who knows, maybe the Republican Party has changed, grown, found democracy Jesus, over the past 24 hours?

Turnout overall has been historic for the Georgia runoff races, which typically suffer from far fewer voters going to the polls. Democrats have been buoyed by voter turnout in urban and suburban areas that has managed to stay marginally closer to November levels than Trump strongholds. With Democrats maintaining enthusiasm in predominantly black areas, while solidifying gains in previously red suburbs, that handful of percentage points in turnout differential, when spread out across the state, has been the difference.

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