Control for the Senate
By Devyn Shea (TheLorian)
This year, there were 35 Senate elections. Many organizations believed that the Senate would go to the Democrats this year, but the chances for Democrats controlling the Senate is very slim and dependent on a few states. So, which races will decide the outcome of who controls the most powerful legislative chamber in the country?
The Senate make up after the 2020 elections right now is 46-48. Two Independents caucus with Democrats, so they are often referred to as Democrats, which makes the count 48-48. Alaska and North Carolina have not counted all of their votes yet, but it is not looking good for Democrats in those states. Al Gross, an Independent endorsed by Democrats, is running against one-term Senator Dan Sullivan in Alaska. Polls showed Sullivan most likely to win by a few percentage points against Gross, with the Alaskan Independence Party candidate in single digits. Democrats will most likely not gain a seat from Alaska this year.
In North Carolina, FiveThirtyEight predicted former state senator Cal Cunningham would win by a margin of roughly three percent, getting over 50 percent of the vote. In early October, Cunningham was thought to have damaged his prospects at a potential tenure in the United States Senate after admitting to an affair he had been having. Many predicted this would have an effect on his polling, but polls within the next two weeks showed him at the same percentage of the vote. Now, however, Republican Senator Thom Tillis will most likely beat Cunningham in the much needed state.
Democrats still have hope, though. In Colorado, they flipped the state by electing former two-term Governor and former 2020 presidential candidate, John Hickenlooper. Hickenlooper won by roughly nine points in Colorado. In Arizona, Democrats unseated Republican Senator Martha McSally by electing former astronaut Mark Kelly. With these two states voting for Democratic Senators, all eyes are now on Georgia. Former Vice President Joe Biden is leading President Donald trump by only a few thousand votes. Georgia also has two Senate elections this year that will most likely decide who will control the Senate.
The first race is between Republican David Perdue and investigative journalist Jon Ossoff. Six years ago, Perdue, then a multimillion dollar businessman, was running against Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Senator Sam Nunn. Nunn outraised Perdue and polls showed the race to be very close. In the end, Perdue won by nearly eight percentage points. This year he is running for re-election and has been called out by his opponent for selling stocks before the stock market crash in February of this year. Perdue was in a closed-door Senate meeting where he and other senators learned about the potential stock market crash, afterwards he made over one hundred transactions. Senator Perdue also made national news during this election for mispronouncing Kamala Harris’ name, which his opponent and members of the Vice-Presidential candidate’s staff have called racist remarks. In the closing days of the campaign, Perdue’s democratic opponent has accused the Senator and his campaign of anti-Semitism, primarily for editing a picture of Ossoff’s nose to make it look larger than it is, a bash at Ossoff’s Jewish background.
Ossoff has been fighting an uphill battle. Polls have had the race as a tossup, but with the incumbent with the upper hand. In 2017, Ossoff had run for congress in a special election. In the general election, he won 48 percent of the vote compared to the second-place finisher, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, who received just under 20%. Georgia law requires a candidate to get 50% or more of the vote in order to win. If no candidate receives 50%, there will be a runoff election between the first and second place finishers. During the 2017 special election runoff, Ossoff lost the race receiving 48-52% against Handel. This year he has successfully prevented Senator Perdue from reaching 50%, which will send them to a runoff in January.
The other race is a crazy one. Last year Senator Johnny Isakson resigned. Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia appointed businesswoman Kelly Loeffler as his successor. All Democrats and Republicans run under the same election, so this year there are nearly two dozen candidates on the ballot. Senator Loeffler has been challenged by a member of her party, Congressman Doug Collins. She has also been challenged by members of the Democratic Party such as: the pastor of MLK’s old church Rev. Raphael Warnock. Loeffler has poured millions of dollars into her campaign and it paid off. She beat out fellow Republican Collins by six percent, getting second place enabling her to be in the runoff in January. Her opponent will be the first place finisher Raphael Warnock, who is currently beating Loeffler in the polls.
If Democrats can pull of two wins in Georgia this January, they will have the Senate.