The Senate in the Balance?

Senate Television via AP

With control of the Senate hanging in the balance, it may come down to two runoff races to be held on January 5, 2021.  The first will pit incumbent Republican Senator David Perdue against Democrat challenger Jon Ossoff.   In the November general election, it appeared as if Perdue was on his way to victory and avoiding a runoff until votes started to pour in after the polls closed.  Although Perdue technically won by about 70,000 votes, those added votes for Ossoff managed to bring Perdue in under the 50% threshold to win outright thus creating the runoff.

The epicenter of shenanigans is, predictably, the Atlanta metro region and surrounding counties.  For example, in DeKalb county, Ossoff crushed Perdue with 81% of the vote.  These additional votes out of these counties are what created the runoff.  This was an expensive race just to get to this point with over $43 million spent thus far with about two-thirds of it being attributable to Ossoff.  Whereas it cost Perdue about $6.20 for every vote received, it cost Ossoff almost double that amount ($11.85 per vote).  As a result of the massive spending by Ossoff, Perdue starts with a decided advantage in cash-on-hand for the runoff race.  Furthermore, whereas Ossoff receives the overwhelming bulk of his money from out-of-state sources, Perdue’s sources of funds are largely in-state.

This writer has a theory about money and politics- namely, that dollar bills do not vote.  However, the people behind those dollar bills in-state do vote.  In most instances where the candidate who has the greater in-state donations, they prevail.  The exceptions are when the percentages are between in-state and out-of-state donations are about identical, or where there is a huge overall difference.  One example is Mark Kelly in Arizona where although Martha McSally had a greater percentage of in-state donations, Mark Kelly’s overall donations (most of it out-of-state) overwhelmed McSally’s in-state advantage.  Still, in that race, it cost Kelly almost double what McSally spent for a single vote to prevail by less than 100,000 votes.

Assuming there is no theft of this election by officials in these key counties, there is every reason to suspect that Perdue should prevail.  Although relatively close, he did garner more votes than Ossoff, just not enough (again, thanks to “shenanigans”).  Hopefully, two things will happen regarding the January 5th runoff.  First, the race will be under the microscope to avoid a repeat of November 3rd.  Someone is going to reach at least 50% in this race.  Second, being under the microscope, there will hopefully be monitors closely scrutinizing this runoff like never before.

There is a third consideration: voter turnout.  Runoffs generally have lower turnout than general elections.  Without a Trump/Biden race at the top of the ticket, one can suspect lower turnout on January 5th.  If there are ridiculous deviations that defy explanation, one can suspect that something is going on. Democrats, in their zeal to deny Trump the state of Georgia, may have, in effect, exposed themselves and used all the tools in their bag of tricks.

As for the other race which will pit Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Ralph Warnock, the dynamics that led to a runoff here were decidedly different.  Unlike the Perdue/Ossoff race, an eventual runoff was expected since it was, in essence, a jungle primary.  To start, there were four viable candidates in the mix: Loeffler, Warnock, Congressman Doug Collins (GOP), and Joe Lieberman’s son for the Democrats.  Between the four, the two Republicans garnered over 2,250,000 votes to the Democrat’s 1,750,000 votes.  Assuming the Lieberman votes went to Warnock and the Collins votes to Loeffler in a two-person race, Loeffler would have crushed Warnock with 56% of the vote and there would be no runoff.  The presence of Lieberman was negligible, but the presence of Collins was significant.  Without Collins, it would appear that Loeffler is poised for victory.

As for spending, Loeffler outspent Warnock and Collins to get this far with the difference being about $7 per vote received.  After the election, their cash-on-hand is about equal.  But like the other runoff, Warnock gets most of his funds from out-of-state while Loeffler gets the majority of her funds from in-state.  Again, everything, under normal circumstances, points to a Loeffler victory.

Leaving aside campaign donations and spending, there was a tremendous amount of money spent by outside groups in both races.  In the Loeffler/Warnock/Collins race, the bulk of it was spent in opposition to Collins.  In the other race, the bulk of it was of an opposition nature mainly against Ossoff by a 5:3 ratio.

As for the dynamics of the Loeffler/Warnock race, in reality the greatest concern for Loeffler was Collins who she had to fight off.  With Collins now out of the way, she set her sights on Warnock.  Collins, upon conceding, endorsed Loeffler almost immediately.  She then went on the attack against Warnock stating on Twitter: “We ARE going to talk about your own words: Calling police officers gangsters, thugs, and bullies.”  This was in response to a statement by Warnock: “Get ready Georgia.  The negative ads are coming. Kelly Loeffler doesn’t want to talk about why she’s for getting rid of health care in the middle of a pandemic. So she’s going to try to scare you with lies about me.”

Except for Warnock, there are “receipts” of his prior statements.  Most recently, as noted by RedState front page writer Bonchie, Warnock said: “America needs to repent for its worship of whiteness.”  How comments like this, assuming Loeffler plays hardball, along with his apparent support for the musings of the Chicago madman of the pulpit, Jeremiah Wright, play with the Georgia electorate remains to be seen.  Most importantly, his apparent stealth support for the “defund the police” rhetoric may play well in DeKalb and Fulton counties, but his support was rather weak in Cobb and Gwinnett counties.  For Loeffler, this is her means to bludgeon Warnock in suburban counties.

As for predictions, all bets are off.  If 2020 proved anything, given the obvious instances of “strange happenings” (i.e., fraud!), it’s anyone’s guess what happens on January 5, 2021 in Georgia.  One thing is certain, though: to allow a repeat of November 3rd would do nothing to restore anyone’s faith in the electoral system.

Caveat and scary thought: ASSUMING Biden prevails, and if the Senate ends up tied 50-50 (which would happen if BOTH Warnock and Ossoff win), can imagine Cameltoe Harris casting the deciding vote in the Senate?  Come on, Georgia!