Georgia Nail-Biter: Warnock Leads Loeffler, Perdue and Ossoff in Dead Heat

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Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photos Getty
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photos Getty

ATLANTA—The battle for the U.S. Senate that won’t end is dragging out just a little longer: as of early Wednesday morning, no winners have been projected in Georgia’s pair of runoff races, leaving control of the Senate up in the air as election officials continue to count votes.

GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are locked in tight races with their Democratic challengers, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. With over 97 percent of votes statewide counted, Perdue had a slim lead over Ossoff—less than 1,000 votes—and Warnock led Loeffler by just under a percentage point.

Just after midnight, Loeffler took the stage at the Georgia GOP’s packed, largely maskless election night party in Atlanta to tell the crowd she planned to fight on.

“We have a path to victory,” said Loeffler. “We’re going to make sure every vote—every legal vote—will be counted.”

That vow didn’t phase Warnock, who declared victory in livestreamed remarks less than 20 minutes later. “We were told we couldn't win this election,” said Warnock. “Tonight, we proved that with hope, hard work, and the people by our side, anything is possible.”

“I promise you this tonight—I am going to the Senate to work for all of Georgia.”

Neither Ossoff nor Perdue chose to speak on election night.

With some 4.3 million votes counted, the remainder lies largely in solidly Democratic counties in the metro Atlanta area and in the coastal city of Savannah. That gives Warnock a path to maintaining or expanding his lead over Loeffler, and giving Ossoff a way to overtake Perdue. The outstanding ballots are largely mail-ins, many from military members serving overseas. Very few remained in the heavily Republican areas of the state, which the GOP senators needed to turn out in force in order to win.

The ballot counting process in Georgia moved far quicker for the runoff election than for the Nov. 3 general election, in which it took several days for President-elect Joe Biden to be projected the winner of the state’s electoral votes.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday night, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he expected results would be known tomorrow mid-day.

It’s likely that a recount will materialize in the coming days, at least for one of the runoff races. Under Georgia law, a candidate may request a recount—paid for by the state—if there is a 0.5 percent margin or less between the two contenders.

After the November election, the presidential results were re-tallied on two separate occasions, both by hand and by machine, after Biden defeated Donald Trump by 13,500 votes. That margin barely changed, with Biden leading by nearly 12,000 votes after the two recounts.

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