DemDaily: Update On The Undecided

December 2, 2020

One month after the November 3rd elections, there are still undecided seats in three states, with control of the US Senate hanging in the balance.

(USA Today)

THE SENATE
The post-election count in the US Senate is now at 50 Republicans to 48 Democrats, with two remaining Senate seats in Georgia going to a run-off January 5th.

Democrats will need to win both Georgia seats to bring control of the US Senate to 50-50. When votes are tied in the Senate, the Vice President, who is also President of the Senate, casts the deciding vote. Under that scenario, Democrats would formally control the upper chamber and the Committee chairmanships.

Georgia
Democrats have made significant gains in a growing and shifting voter demographic which put the state in play as a presidential battleground for the first time in decades.

Biden defied Georgia's history as a GOP stronghold by becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the Peach State since Bill Clinton in 1992. Following a recount, Georgia was officially called for the President-elect Joseph Biden on November 20th, with 49.5% to Trump's 49.3% -- a 12,670 vote margin.

Georgia had two US Senate seats up on November 3rd. The first was the regular election for incumbent Republican David Perdue, and the second, a special election to fill the remaining term of Republican Johnny Isakson who left the Senate in December of 2019 due to health issues.

(CBSNews)

In Georgia, candidates of both parties run in an open election and if no one candidate secures over 50% of the vote, then the top two candidates advance to a runoff election -- as is the case in both these seats.

Georgia One
November 3rd Results: David Perdue (R) 49.7% v. Jon Ossoff (D) 47.9%
Count: Perdue 2,462,617 v. Ossoff 2,374,519

Georgia's junior Senator, David Perdue, was first elected in 2014 with 52.89% of the vote. A former businessman, and cousin of former Trump Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue (R), he served as CEO of Reebok, Dollar General, and Pillowtex. He serves on the Armed Services, Banking, Budget, and Foreign Relations committees.

Perdue is being challenged by investigative journalist Jon Ossoff, who first garnered national attention in a high-profile, but unsuccessful, April, 2017 Special Congressional Election.

New Obama Ad for Ossoff (CLICK)

An InsiderAdvantage/Fox5 Atlanta poll conducted November 16th of likely voters (MOE +/- 3.5%), had Perdue and Ossoff in a dead heat at 49% each.

Georgia Two Special

November 3rd Results: Raphael Warnock (D) 32.9% v. Kelly Loeffler (R) 25.9% v. Doug Collins (R) 20%
Count: Warnock 1,617,035 v. Loeffler 1,273,214

After Isakson's mid-term 2019 retirement, Governor Brian Kemp (R) appointed businesswoman and WNBA Atlantic Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler as interim Senator through the November 3rd special election.

From that contest, Democratic candidate and Atlanta Ebenezer Baptist Church Reverend Raphael Warnock, and Loeffler, the top two voter-getters, advanced to a January 5th runoff.

An InsiderAdvantage/Fox5 Atlanta poll conducted November 16th of likely voters (MOE +/- 3.5%), had Warnock at 49% to Loeffler's 48%.

An estimated 23,000 teenagers in Georgia who were too young to vote in the November 3rd general election will turn 18 in time to participate in the January 5th runoff elections. The voter register deadline is December 7th.

Loeffler Ad attacks Warnock as a "Marxist and Socialist" sympathizer (CLICK)

War on the Airwaves
With control of the Senate at stake, the national political parties and outside groups are pouring millions of dollars into ads and organizing in what will be unquestionably the two most expensive Senate races in history.

In the runoff period alone, total advertising is expected to reach a staggering one billion dollars in an all-out war for every Georgia vote.

Democrats are hitting both Perdue and Loeffler on their "unethical and potentially illegal behavior" involving a stock trading scandal, where the two benefited financially from alleged insider information.

Although both were investigated by the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Senate Ethics Committee earlier this year, no charges were brought. Despite the conflict of interest with related industry policies which Senators oversee, they are not prohibited from trading stock while in Congress.

Ossoff skewered Perdue in an October Debate (CLICK)

Republicans are painting both Ossoff and Warnock as extreme socialists and are appealing to Republican voters to help secure their senate majority. In one ad they tie Ossoff to "radical" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, showing Schumer celebrating Biden's win and saying, "Now we take Georgia, and then we change America!"

US HOUSE
While Democrats still hold the US House, they enter 2021 with a significantly reduced majority. Going into the November 3rd elections, Dems held a 234 to 201 majority over the GOP. As of last Sunday, 431 of 435 House seats up in 2020 had been called.

On Monday, Democratic challenger Christy Smith conceded the race to incumbent Republican Mike Garcia in California's 25th Congressional District, based in northern Los Angeles County. It will be the first full term for Garcia, who won a May, 2020 special election to replace Congresswoman Katie Hill, who resigned in November of 2019.

On Tuesday, California's 21st CD, based in San Joaquin Valley, was called for Republican challenger David Valadeo, who reclaimed the seat that he held prior to be ousted by Democrat T.J. Cox in 2018.

That leaves the incoming 117th House of Representatives at 222 Democrats to 211 Republicans, with two seats outstanding in Iowa's 2nd CD and New York's 22nd.

The Outstanding
The final two House races of 2020 are the closest in federal elections history since the famous 1984 election for Indiana's 8th District, when Democrat Frank McClosky triumped over Republican challenger Rick McIntyre by four votes.

In Iowa's 2nd CD, 6 votes separate Hart (D) and Miller-Meeks (R) (Iowa PBS)

Iowa's Second Congressional District
Status: Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) 50% v. Rita Hart (D) 50%
Count: 196,964 to 196,958 votes

On Monday, election officials in Iowa certified Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks as the winner in Iowa's Second Congressional District election by a six-vote margin over Democrat Rita Hart.

The contest for the 2nd CD, which covers most of southeastern Iowa, and has been held by retiring incumbent Congressman Dave Loebsack (D) since 2007, is hardly over.

Hart's campaign is expected to take legal action today to count additional legal ballots that were not included in the recount process. Such a filing would trigger the formation of a contest court consisting of Republican-appointed Iowa Chief Justice Susan Christensen and four appointed district judges, who would have until December 8th to render a verdict.

If the court ruled in favor of Miller-Meeks, Hart could file a final appeal with the Democratic-controlled US House, which has the power to judge its members' elections, but rarely intervenes.

12 Votes separate Brindisi (D) and Tenney (R) in New York's 22nd CD (WSKG)

New York's 22nd Congressional District
Status: Claudia Tenney (R) 50% v. Andrew Brindisi (D) 50%
Count: 155,492 to 155,480 votes

In upstate New York's 22nd CD, freshman Democratic Congressman Andrew Brindisi trails Republican challenger Claudia Tenney by 12 votes. It is a rematch between Tenney, who was elected in 2016, and Brindisi, who unseated her in 2018 by less than 5,000 votes.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte ordered each of the eight counties in the congressional district to submit a final, unofficial count to the court by 4:00pm Monday, resulting in the current results.

However, there are still 2,500 disputed absentee and provisional ballots that are uncounted. DelConte has asked the Brindisi and Tenney campaigns to submit written arguments over how to handle the disputed absentee and affidavit ballots by 4:00pm today.

DelConte has scheduled the next hearing for Monday, December 7th. In the interim, the counties still have to certify their results, which may produce different numbers. Regardless, this one is likely to go to a recount.

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Sources: FiveThirtyEight, AP, WBNG, WSKG, Ballotpedia, Politico, WashingtonPost, PBS, NewYorkTimes

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