Election Day didn’t provide much finality to this election cycle.
Barring an insane plot twist, Joe Biden is the president-elect, although Donald Trump has yet to concede and claims to be the victim of widespread voter fraud.
The results won’t be officially certified until December, assuming the various recounts and legal challenges have concluded by then.
“Who will control the Senate?” – is another question, the answer for which remains in flux.
On November 2, Democrats were heavy favorites to win a majority in the Senate and increase their presence in the House.
Now, the “blue tsunami” experts promised is looking like little more than a pipe dream.
After “experts” like the statisticians at FiveThirtyEight gave the Democrats a 75% likelihood of controlling the upper chamber of commerce, the blue team’s candidates underperformed to stunning degrees in congressional races, even losing seats in the House!
Party in Control of Senate
- Matchup Odds
- Republican Party-650
- Democratic Party+400
Thanks to Georgia’s Senate runoffs, there’s more time to bet on the 2020 election season at our top-rated political betting sites!
The Senate is still in play, but it’s a long shot.
Republicans held a 53-47 majority in the Senate coming into Election Day. Prognosticators predicted the Democrats flipping at least four vulnerable seats – with some giving them a decent shot at winning between 52-54 seats.
In the case of a 50-50 split, Vice President Kamala Harris, in her duties as Senate president, would then be the tiebreaking vote.
Right now, it looks like the Republican Party controls 50 seats; the Democrats have 48.
On January 5, Georgia will determine who takes the final two spots – and thus, majority control — in the Senate.
- Favorites no longer, the Democratic Party needs an improbable sweep in the Peach State’s two runoff elections to realize their dream of taking full control of the legislative branch in 2020.
- The last time Georgia elected a Democrat to represent the state in the US Senate was in 2000; so, having two Dem candidates win at the same time would be quite the upset.
That said, assuming the current results hold, following the recount, Joe Biden did flip Georgia for the Democrats for the first time since 1992. Maybe the state’s blue shift will include congressional races.
Georgia’s Senate Runoffs
Under Georgia law, candidates must receive a majority – rather than a plurality – of the vote to win an election. If nobody breaks the 50% mark, the top two vote-getters compete in a runoff election to decide the winner.
Senate elections are usually staggered so that both seats aren’t up for reelection simultaneously, but Sen. Johnny Isakson – whose term was set to expire in 2022 — resigned last year. Sen. Kelly Loeffler was appointed to fill his seat but must defend it in a special election to determine who finishes his term.
The special election rules dictated that Election Day would serve as round one, with the top two candidates from either party advancing to a January 5 runoff.
That’s how we find ourselves in a situation in which both of Georgia’s Senate seats are up for grabs at the same time.
The fact that the rest of the country’s races ended in a “score” of 50-48 — meaning the Peach State’s runoff elections decide the balance of power in Congress — is icing on the cake.
Kelly Loeffler vs. Raphael Warnock
In round one of the special election for Senator Isakson’s seat, the Democrats coalesced behind Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, a Senior Pastor at Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church — the former pulpit of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Facing little competition on the Democratic side, Rev. Warnock received 33% of the vote, the most of any candidate in this first round. Sen. Loeffler carried 26% of the vote, narrowly defeating Collins (20%), who conceded on Election Night.
I just called @kloeffler and congratulated her on making the runoff. She has my support and endorsement. I look forward to all Republicans coming together. Raphael Warnock would be a disaster for Georgia and America.
— Doug Collins (@CollinsforGA) November 4, 2020
GA Senate Runoffs
- Matchup Odds
- Kelly Loeffler (R)-280
- Raphael Warnock (D)+205
With Doug Collins out of the way, Loeffler is a –280 favorite (73.68% implied probability of winning) to retain her seat and finish the term.
The race looks like it should be closer on paper.
The problem for Warnock, the underdog Democrat, is turnout, which is typically low for elections without a presidential contest on the ballot —especially compared to this year’s historic levels of voter participation, fueled by the remarkably polarizing Donald Trump.
Now that President Trump lost, will Georgia Democrats be able to inspire another massive turnout? — especially so soon?
David Perdue vs. Jon Ossoff
The other incumbent is Sen. David Perdue, a Republican who first joined the Senate in 2014 and is vying for reelection against Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff.
- Perdue nearly avoided a runoff election, finishing with 49.7 percent of the vote on November 3.
- His 33-year-old opponent carried 47.9% and will get a second crack at the Senate seat in January.
GA Senate Runoffs
- Matchup Odds
- David Perdue (R)-380
- Jon Ossoff (D)+265
While Democratic Party strategists have their work cut out for them, re-engaging voters and getting them back to the polls without the threat of Trump as a motivator, Ossoff will benefit from having the weight of the entire DNC apparatus – and their money – behind him for the runoff.
Regardless, Sen. Perdue is a significant favorite to retain his seat at –380 moneyline odds (79.17% implied probability of winning).
In addition to the November 3 vote tallies, where the incumbent garnered more support, recent polling shows Perdue with a four-point lead, which will put him over the 50% threshold.
2020 Congressional Races So Far
To better grasp how Georgia’s two runoffs will play out, we should first analyze the trends exposed by the 2020 congressional races that have already concluded nationwide. So far, the Republican Party has only lost a single seat in the Senate and gained nine in the House of Representatives.
In a year predicted to be an enormous triumph for Democrats, the 2020 general election has been a pleasant surprise for the GOP, even in the face of losing the presidency.
Between Trump’s 71 million votes keeping the presidential race incredibly close and the congressional results, the Biden administration is limping into the White House without a clear mandate from the American people.
Instead of holding the executive branch and both chambers of Congress — allowing them to end the filibuster, “pack the courts,” and shove through whatever legislation progressive Democrats want — they’ll be forced to negotiate with Mitch McConnell, even if the Democrats miraculously win both Georgia runoffs.
This is the ideal setup for Joe Biden. If the blue wave materialized and the new Democratic administration came into power with strong majorities in the House and Senate, it would be much harder to explain why they still wouldn’t enact any of the progressive agenda on which he campaigned – particularly during the DNC primaries.
Biden is as conservative as Democrats come and a staunch corporatist. A Republican Senate gives them a foil to blame for failing to make any progress. Instead of improving health care, the federal minimum wage, or workers’ rights, Biden will be passing “compromise” austerity measures at a blinding rate in January.
The Democrats’ Senate majority was expected to be won by gaining seats in Colorado and Maine, which Biden was supposed to carry by significant margins. Arizona and North Carolina too, where polling showed the president-elect as only a narrow favorite.
- As expected, Republican Sen. Cory Gardner – universally accepted as the most vulnerable incumbent –was defeated by former Gov. John Hickenlooper. Hickenlooper and Biden both won by comfortable margins in Colorado.
- Mark Kelly was another strongly favored Democrat, challenging GOP Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona. Kelly flipped the seat, running slightly ahead of Biden’s AZ vote totals.
- The polls showed Democrat Cal Cunningham in a favorable position to win Sen. Thom Tillis’ seat in North Carolina. However, despite receiving roughly the same percentage of the vote as Biden, Cunningham fell short against the Republican incumbent.
- Republican Sen. Joni Ernst’s seat in Iowa was expected to be vulnerable as well. However, Democrat Theresa Greenfield got trounced by almost 7 points, despite running nearly even with Biden.
- The most shocking GOP victory came from Sen. Susan Collins in Maine. She defended her seat from Sarah Gideon as a +150 betting underdog, in a state that Joe Biden won! Collins is the only Senate candidate to succeed in a state that her party lost in the presidential race.
- The Senate races in Alaska, Kansas, Montana, and South Carolina that fueled Democrats’ pre-election fantasies of flipping 5-7 seats — after pollsters showed them having tight, very winnable margins – all stayed red. Not only were they nowhere near as vulnerable as advertised, but the Republican candidate won by double-digits in every one of them.
Polling is Biased in Favor of Democrats
If there’s anything we can apply to the Georgia runoffs, it’s that polls were ridiculously biased in favor of Democratic candidates once again. Since 2016, this has become a glaring pattern.
Even the Democrats’ celebrated 2018 midterm showing, in which they gained control of the House, was a smaller “blue wave” than expected. That performance is talked about as some great triumph now, but before the midterms, the American public’s overwhelming rebuke of Trump was supposed to hand both chambers of Congress to the Democrats.
Still, polling is more wildly inaccurate in presidential election years.
Donald Trump was supposed to be humiliated, yet 71 million ballots were cast for him, giving the Republican Party a substantial boost in down-ballot contests.
Assuming this trend holds, it’s very comforting news for both Georgia incumbents.
Of course, there’s less guesswork this time around. The four candidates participating in these runoffs have recent election results to draw from.
If you add up all the candidates from Georgia’s Senate races’ vote shares by party, Republicans got 49.4 percent of the votes cast, while Democrats got 48.4 percent. And that’s with an unheard of, once-in-a-lifetime turnout from Democratic voters in urban areas.
- Sen. Perdue won round one by just-under two-points, falling 0.3 percent short of clearing the 50% threshold and avoiding a runoff.
- Kelly Loeffler finished with 26% to Rev. Warnock’s 32.9; however, that’s with Republican congressman Doug Collins receiving 20% of the vote. Most of those conservative supporters will back Loeffler in January.
Trump’s Role in Georgia Runoffs
I think the Democrats already missed their shot to flip the Senate.
As I’ve already mentioned, the 2020 general election’s historic voter turnout was driven by one man: Donald Trump.
His supporters idolize him with an enthusiasm seldom seen in politics, and his haters feel just as strongly. It takes a remarkably polarizing figure to generate over 70 million votes for each candidate.
Now that the election is over, the stakes and political engagement levels for both sides couldn’t be more different.
Biden has been called the winner by every major media outlet; Democrats have already thrown victory rallies in the streets.
Meanwhile, Republicans are becoming more radicalized than ever. Trump is alleging the election was rigged – that GOP poll watchers were locked out of the process, and faulty voting machines were switching votes in favor of the Democratic candidate.
Fuel to the Fire
They went to bed on Election Night with President Trump enjoying seemingly insurmountable leads. Only to wake up the next day to stories of hundreds-of-thousands of Biden votes flooding in overnight to swing key battleground states.
To make matters worse, the media calls the President’s attempts to compel recounts and investigate allegations of fraud a “coup attempt.” Social media is censoring everyone – President Trump included – who dares question the legitimacy of the race – after four straight years of Democrats and their media pundits undermining the integrity of the 2016 election result, no less.
Whether Joe Biden’s win was deserved or not, whether big tech’s censorship is appropriate or not, it doesn’t matter.
Either way, the Republican base is as passionate and furious as ever.
If you’re trying to motivate voters back to the polls for the second time in as many months, that’s the energy you want. By not conceding and demanding recounts, the MAGA energy is still at full force.
Please make no mistake; the President is going to lose his lawsuits and election recounts.
Even if the Democrats did cheat, it’s not going to show up in the recount results – not with one poll watcher for every ten counters and no signature authentication effort.
When Donald Trump officially loses, Republicans can turn to their voters and say, “look at what the Democrats did to us; we can’t let them have the Senate too.”
The last thing those people want is to give their political rivals anything more to celebrate. “If the Trump administration is going down, then Biden has to deal with Mitch McConnell and the obstructionist GOP Senate caucus.”
Biden Victory Hangover?
On the other end of the equation are the satisfied, contented Democrats. The villain who’s dominated their existence for four years, the unprecedented existential threat to everything Democrats – and “true” Americans — hold dear has finally been vanquished.
Control of Congress would be nice, but the real battle has been won.
Plus, the absentee ballots responsible for pushing Joe Biden past the finish line won’t be coming automatically. Voters must reapply for them before December 7 to receive one for the runoff.
How can Democratic strategists hope to reignite the sense of urgency that won the election for Biden without having Trump to dangle over voters’ heads? I suspect they can’t, no matter how much money the party spends in Georgia between now and January 5.
Not only have they already begun celebrating, but each subsequent Trump loss in the court cases and recounts between now and his concession will let a little more of the pressure out.
Eye of the Tiger
They’ve only made a million boxing movies about this scenario. The enraged hungry fighter beats the breaks off the self-satisfied comfortable guy every single time.
I’m not sure these final Georgia races will be any different.
How the parties approach the gridlocked stimulus negotiations will play a factor in January’s runoffs as well. If there’s anything the Republicans could do to dampen the righteous indignation that should fuel their victories in Georgia, it’s being perceived as the side blocking a relief bill from passing at most Americans’ most desperate time of need.
The presidential election showed the United States’ political landscape continuing to realign, with Democrats dominating urban areas and Republicans stronger than ever in rural America.
Trump lost vast chunks of his affluent, college-educated supporters but gained popularity among working-class voters of every ethnicity.
The only demographic the President performed worse with in 2020 than in 2016 was white men – most of which came from the cities and suburbs. He improved his numbers with Black and Brown voters.
A much larger percentage of Joe Biden’s supporters will manage to survive the pandemic economy, even if there’s another lockdown. The same can’t be said for the primarily working-class, non-college-educated GOP base.
Republican leadership seems aware of what’s at stake.
All the party’s key players have publicly acknowledged the urgency of getting a relief bill passed as swiftly as possible. Donald Trump has emphatically expressed the same.
Even if the parties’ Senate leaders find themselves in another stalemate, GOP officials will have to epically screw this up to choke away both of Georgia’s Senate seats.
Betting on a Red Georgia in January
Based on all the data, I’m taking both Republican incumbents in Georgia’s two runoff elections.
Biden may have squeaked by in November, but I’m not ready to commit to calling Georgia a “blue state.” A Democrat hasn’t represented the state in the Senate in two decades.
More than anything, I think it comes down to Donald Trump’s status.
Democratic voters have accomplished their primary mission; Republicans are outraged over the belief that they’ve been robbed.
There’s no way MAGA world is going to risk giving the Democrats anything else to smile about this election cycle.
The GOP candidates won a larger share of the electorate in Georgia’s first round of elections; it should be easier to extend those margins further on January 5.
Bet the house on Perdue, Loeffler, and a Republican majority in the Senate!
Senate Majority – Republican Party