Voters in the South Georgia state in the United States are expected to decide on the balance of power in Congress in a pair of high-stakes Senate second-round elections that will help determine the president-elect’s ability Joe Biden to adopt what could be the most progressive government. agenda for generations.
Polling stations open at 7 a.m. (12 p.m. GMT) on Tuesday. A record more than three million people voted early, according to election officials, and the final results may not be known for several days.
Republicans are united against Biden’s plans for healthcare, environmental protection, and civil rights, but some fear incumbent President Donald Trump’s brazen attempts to undermine the integrity of the country’s voting systems discourage voters in Georgia.
At a rally in northwest Georgia on the eve of Tuesday’s run-off, Trump has repeatedly said that the November election was plagued by fraud which Republican officials said, including his former Attorney General and Chief Electoral Officer of Georgia, had not taken place.
The president called Georgia’s Republican secretary of state “crazy” and pledged to help him defeat him in two years. At the same time, Trump has encouraged his supporters to come to the polls in force.
“You must swarm it tomorrow [Tuesday]Trump told thousands of cheering supporters, downplaying the threat of fraud.
Democrats must win both state senatorial elections to gain a majority in the Senate. In this scenario, the Senate would be evenly split 50-50 with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serving as a tiebreaker for Democrats.
Democrats have already won a narrow majority in the House and the White House in the November general election.
The results in Georgia will also help demonstrate whether the broad political coalition that fueled Biden’s victory was an anti-Trump anomaly or part of a new landscape.
Biden won Georgia’s 16 electoral votes by about 12,000 out of five million votes cast in November.
Democratic success will likely depend on strong turnout from African Americans, young voters, college graduates, and women, all groups that helped Biden become the first Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 to win Georgia. .
Republicans, meanwhile, have focused on energizing their own base of white men and voters beyond the heart of the Atlanta subway.
‘The power literally in your hands’
Even a tightly divided Democratic Senate is unlikely to guarantee Biden everything he wants, given Senate rules that require 60 votes to move most major laws forward.
But if Democrats lose even one of Tuesday’s competitions, Biden would be unlikely to get quick up or down votes on his most ambitious plans to expand healthcare coverage. supported health care, strengthen the middle class, tackle racial inequalities and tackle climate change.
A Republican-controlled Senate would also create a more difficult path for Cabinet choices and Biden’s judicial candidates.
“Georgia, the whole nation is looking to you. The power is literally in your hands, ”Biden said at his own rally in Atlanta earlier Monday.
“A state can lead the way, not just for the next four years, but for the next generation.”
The January elections in Georgia, necessary because no candidate for the Senate received a majority of the votes in the general election, were unique for many reasons, not least because the candidates mainly ran in teams, sometimes even together. .
One contest features Democrat Raphael Warnock, who is the senior pastor of the Atlanta church where the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. grew up and preached. The 51-year-old black man was raised in public housing and spent most of his adult life preaching in Baptist churches.
Warnock faces Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, a 50-year-old former businesswoman appointed to the Senate less than a year ago by the state’s Republican governor. She is only the second woman to represent Georgia in the Senate, although race has become a campaign topic much more than gender.
Loeffler and his allies have taken a few excerpts from Warnock’s sermons at the historic Black Church to call it extreme. Dozens of religious and civil rights leaders pushed back.
The other election pits former company executive David Perdue, 71, who held the Senate seat until his official term expired on Sunday, against Democrat Jon Ossoff, a former congressional aide and journalist.
At just 33, Ossoff would be the youngest member of the Senate if elected. The fresh-faced Democrat first gained national notoriety in 2017 when he launched an unsuccessful special election offer in the House.
This week’s election marks the official end of the turbulent 2020 election season more than two months after the rest of the country finished voting.
“It really is about whether an agenda that moves the nation forward can be forged without significant compromise,” said Martin Luther King III, the son of the civil rights icon and native of Georgia, who predicted Tuesday of “razor thin” margins.
“There are a lot of things at stake.”