Georgia awaits the result of High-Stakes US Senate runoff election
Kathmandu : The votes are being counted in Georgia, where Republican and Democratic US Senate candidates faced off after running the most expensive and nationally consequential pair of congressional runoff campaigns in state history.
It is estimated that over four million voters returned to the polls Tuesday to vote in two races pitting Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican David Perdue, whose Senate term expired Sunday, against Democrat Jon Ossoff. More than three million cast mail-in ballots or voted early in person.
With 97 percent of the votes counted as of 05:00 GMT, the races are still too close to call. Warnock holds a slim lead over Loeffler while Perdue and Ossoff are virtually tied.
The outcome will determine which party controls the US Senate, and it appears that was on the minds of voters. In preliminary results from The Associated Press’s VoteCast survey, 60 percent of Georgia runoff voters said Senate control was the most important factor in their vote. Of those who said it was the most important factor, 58 percent voted for Perdue and Loeffler.
Pre-election surveys showed both races to be too close to call, which means the results could take some time to confirm. The winners are expected to be announced as early as Wednesday morning, Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, told Fox News on Tuesday.
Republicans David Perdue, top left, and Senator Kelly Loeffler, bottom left, and their Georgia runoff election challengers, Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock [Reuters]
As part of last minute get-out-the-vote efforts, three candidates, Loeffler, Warnock and Ossoff, made public appearances throughout the state Tuesday. Perdue could not campaign in person because he is in quarantine after coming into contact with a campaign staffer who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
Given the high stakes of the outcome, the runoffs received nationwide attention and hundreds of millions of dollars in combined donations. In the two months since election day in November, approximately $516m was spent on the contests, according to Medium Buying, which tracks advertisement spending.
Party activists on both sides encouraged supporters to vote early and by mail. Of the 7.7 million registered voters in the state, about four million voters are expected in total, shattering the previous state runoff turnout record of 2.1 million. Since the November election, approximately 70,000 new voters have registered, according to an NBC News analysis.