In Brief

US election: Democrats’ Senate hopes boosted as races head to January run-offs

Majority in the upper-house could embolden a Joe Biden presidency or stifle Donald Trump’s second term

As the nervous wait continues for the few remaining swing states to announce the winner of the presidential election, two close races in Georgia have given the Democrats hope of wrenching control of the Senate from Republicans.

One of the tight Senate races is definitely heading to a run-off, while a second is too close to call a winner. And a further two races, in North Carolina and Alaska, also remain undecided.

No candidate in any of the four races has hit the 50% threshold required to take a Senate seat, meaning the chamber is currently deadlocked at 48-48.

In Georgia, Republican senator Kelly Loeffler will face Democrat Raphael Warnock, a black pastor at the church where Martin Luther King preached, in a 5 January run-off after neither candidate won 50% of the vote in the first round.

Warnock has emerged as “front runner” heading into the second round, giving him a real chance of ousting Loeffler from the upper house next year, The New York Times reports.

Democrats are also pinning their hopes on a second Georgia race between Republican incumbent David Perdue and Democrat challenger Jon Ossoff. Perdue is currently leading with 49.8% of the vote, with 98% of the votes counted.

Two close Senate races are ongoing in North Carolina and Alaska too, but Republicans “look likely to win” in those two states, The Guardian says. However, “Democrats would undoubtedly focus huge amounts of energy and money on trying to win the Georgia run-offs”, the newspaper adds.

Taking the two Georgia Senate seats would leave the upper chamber tied at 50-50, which if Biden wins the White House, would leave his vice president, Kamala Harris, with the deciding vote. If Donald Trump wins a second term, Mike Pence would hold the tie-breaking vote. 

Winning control of the Senate is all-important to ensuring a president can pursue their legislative agenda, as the upper chamber possess immense power over policy and some administration and judicial appointments.

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