NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Polls have closed in Georgia; early results in Senate runoff elections now trickling in

As night falls here on the Left Coast, Geor­gia elec­tions offi­cials have begun releas­ing results in the state’s two hot­ly con­test­ed Sen­ate runoff elec­tions, as well as for a third posi­tion that went to runoffs — Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion Dis­trict Four. Polls have closed in the Peach Tree State, but some peo­ple are still vot­ing because they were in line wait­ing to vote when the polls closed.

It is far too ear­ly to draw any con­clu­sions about the out­comes of these races, but CNN, MSNBC, and oth­er net­works are nonethe­less doing their best to fill air­time by serv­ing up help­ings of exit polling and scour­ing the ear­li­est returns for clues about the lat­er returns. Less than ten per­cent of expect­ed returns have been tab­u­lat­ed and released as of when this post was being drafted.

The runoffs pit two cor­rupt, Trump-serv­ing Repub­li­can incum­bents (David Per­due and Kel­ly Loef­fler) against two dynam­ic Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lengers (the Rev­erend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff). If Democ­rats win both, they’d be able to end Repub­li­can con­trol of the Sen­ate. If Repub­li­cans win both, or just one, they’ll remain in con­trol of the cham­ber, like­ly until the 2022 midterms at least.

So far, the two sets of can­di­dates have been per­form­ing about the same, mean­ing that in each set of ear­ly returns, Per­due and Loef­fler have about the same amount of sup­port and Warnock and Ossoff have about the same amount of sup­port. The prob­a­bil­i­ty of a split seems low: it is like­ly that the elec­tion will end with either two Repub­li­can vic­to­ries or two Demo­c­ra­t­ic victories.

Ossoff and Warnock cur­rent­ly have small leads in their races, with about 13% report­ing, but that could change at any moment.

“A jaw-drop­ping $833 mil­lion was spent to sway Geor­gia vot­ers since the gen­er­al elec­tion, and turnout is expect­ed to break records,” the Atlanta Jour­nal-Con­sti­tu­tion report­ed. “Near­ly 3.1 mil­lion Geor­gians cast their votes ear­ly in-per­son or by mail, and vot­ing on Tues­day was rel­a­tive­ly dra­ma-free.”

The paper’s Greg Bluestein, who has been called upon to con­tribute his exper­tise to cable news, char­ac­ter­ized both sides as very ner­vous.

“Texts alter­nat­ed between boasts about high turnout in a Demo­c­ra­t­ic strong­hold and evi­dence of robust par­tic­i­pa­tion in a mid­dle Geor­gia precinct. Some Repub­li­cans were jubi­lant, oth­ers despon­dent,” the vet­er­an polit­i­cal reporter relat­ed. “Democ­rats had the same ner­vous ener­gy, with some cam­paign hands over­joyed and oth­ers fret­ting about light turnout in this or that district.”

“The truth is, no one is quite sure yet what the elec­tion day turnout num­bers will deliv­er — and which par­ty stands to gain. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s vis­it to north­west Geor­gia was designed to ener­gize Repub­li­can vot­ers, and there was anec­do­tal evi­dence of long lines and steady voting.”

“But many of those Repub­li­cans might have been plan­ning to vote on runoff day all along. The same could be same about precincts around metro Atlanta, where Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden made a last-ditch appeal on Monday.”

Turnout is not expect­ed to be as high as the Novem­ber gen­er­al elec­tion was, but could still be extra­or­di­nar­i­ly high for a runoff election.

Offi­cial results are avail­able here.

Results are also avail­able from The Asso­ci­at­ed Press’ elec­tions ser­vice.

Once most bal­lots are count­ed, we’ll have a bet­ter idea of where every­thing stands in this most impor­tant of unusu­al­ly timed elections.

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