It’s not just control of the Senate that’s at stake during Tuesday’s runoff elections for two Georgia Senate seats — the outcome of the races could define the early days of Joe Biden’s presidency and the legacy of President Donald Trump.
That’s why both Biden and Trump will make the trek to the Peach State on Monday, as both deliver their final pitches ahead of the polls opening on Tuesday.
As it stands, Republicans hold a 50 to 48 advantage over the Democratic caucus in the Senate. However, if Democrats Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff prevail in Tuesday’s races, Democrats would control the chamber, as Vice President Kamala Harris would be granted a vote in the event of any 50 to 50 tie.
With Democrats already in control of the House of Representatives, control of the Senate would allow Biden flexibility in passing landmark legislation early on in his term. However, losing the Senate in a bitterly divided political climate could mean two years of stalemate, and could keep him from performing baseline duties like confirming cabinet picks.
Along those same lines, Trump may find many of his landmark policies — like funding for a wall on the Mexican border or the rollback of government regulations — completely reversed if Republicans lose the Senate.
Both Biden and Trump will make appearances in Georgia ahead of Tuesday’s runoffs. Biden will appear alongside Ossoff and Warnock at a campaign event in Atlanta, while Trump will host a rally in Macon in support of Sens. David Purdue and Kelly Loeffler.
It’s not often that a state elects two Senators in a single year. However, when Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, stepped down due to health problems at the end of 2019, Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to fill his seat and said a special election would take place to fill the final two years of his term.
In November, Loeffler and Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, finished as the top two vote-getters. Loeffler beat out Rep. Doug Collins, R-Georgia, by aligning herself closely to President Donald Trump in both policy positions and in her political stylings.
In the other race, Purdue is seeking his second term as senator, but faces a stiff challenge from Ossoff, a former journalist. Ossoff was narrowly defeated in a high-profile special election for Georgia’s sixth congressional seat in 2017.
Polls show that both races are extremely tight. Polling analysts at FiveThirtyEight show that both Democratic candidates hold slight edges over their Republican rivals.