January US Senate Race Explained

I’ve become quite knowledgeable on this over the last several days, so just wanted to try to explain in a clear way about this outstanding Senate race in the US, because it’s significant for the rest of the world too as was the election overall.

Another quirky aspect of this US election is that the race for the Senate has come down to the result from one state (Georgia), since nationally the two parties are currently tied (48-48), with 4 races outstanding. There is 1 outstanding Senate race in each of Alaska and North Carolina, and 2 outstanding races in Georgia, to make 100 total. The Alaska and North Carolina races are expected to have Republican winners, whereas both of Georgia’s 2 Senate races were inconclusive.

BBC News

Whether or not the Democrats get a majority in the Senate drastically affects how much change they can make during at least the first two years. If the Republicans keep it, then the government will actually be quite divided and the Democrats stymied in passing bills.

Georgia has a majority-vote requirement for general elections which requires the winning candidate to gain at least a 50% majority. If no candidate has a majority vote after the initial election, a run-off election is held with the top two finishers. Both of Georgia’s 2 Senate races are going to a run-off!

“Republican David Perdue will face Democrat Jon Ossoff in a January 5, 2021, runoff for the Senate seat, despite Purdue’s comfortable 100,000-plus vote lead. (Outstanding mail ballots will undoubtedly reduce that lead and put 50 percent far out of reach for Purdue.)” (here).

The results of the 2 Georgia Senate races currently look like:

BBC News

Total Republican: 49.8%
Total Democrat: 47.9%
Total Other: 2.3%
Total (Democrat + Other): 50.2%

BBC News

Total Republican: 49.3%
Total Democrat: 48.4%
Total Other: 2.3%
(weirdly equal to percentage in other race!)
Total (Democrat + Other): 50.7%

In each of the 2 run-off elections, if all the voters who initially voted for non-Republican/Democrat candidates then vote for the Democrat candidate, the Democrat candidate would win with a narrow margin πŸ˜…. Typically, that is what’s been happening in this election vs. the previous US election, and was how Biden was able to win this one overall.

Counting the other 2 currently-outstanding Senate races (in Alaska and North Carolina) as Republican, the Democrats would need to win both of the Senate run-off races in Georgia, to tie at 50-50 in the Senate. The fact that the Democrats are now perceived as winners is in their favour.

“if the election leads to a 50-50 party split in the Senate, the Vice-President’s vote will give the majority to his or her party.” (here)

So that’s what it all means and why January the 5th is now important.


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