Democrat Raphael Warnock has defeated Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, according to the Associated Press, bringing the Democratic Party one step closer to taking control of the U.S. Senate.
The race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican David Perdue remained too close to call as of Wednesday morning, AP said, though Ossoff has taken a 12,800-vote lead with 98% of the vote reported. Decision Desk HQ projected Ossoff as the winner.
On the brink of defeat, the Perdue campaign issued a statement vowing to "mobilize every available resource and exhaust every legal recourse to ensure all legally cast ballots are properly counted." Georgia law allows trailing candidates to request a recount if the margin 0.5 percentage points or less.
Democrats and progressives began tentative (and not so tentative) celebrations late Tuesday night as large batches of election returns in Georgia lifted hopes that both Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff—facing off against Republican incumbent Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, respectively—were on the verge of possible historic victories in the high-stakes runoff.
As of this writing, just after midnight and according to tabulations by the Associated Press, Perdue and Ossoff were in a 50-50 dead heat with 95% of ballots counted and Perdue holding a slim lead of just over 1,000 votes. Warnock, meanwhile, held a 50.4% to 49.6% lead over Loeffler with a nearly 35,000 vote margin.
With just 5% of the vote left to be counted, major outlets and cable network decision desks have yet to call either race officially, but both Warnock and Ossoff were considered to be in very strong positions due to the fact that most of the outstanding ballots left to be reported were in districts that lean heavily Democratic.
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As the New York Times election analyst Nate Cohn tweeted just after 11:30 pm Tuesday:
Ossoff and Warnock are both on track for victory with a greater than 95% chance to win, according to our estimates.
This is not a projection, but the remaining vote--including another 18k DeKalb early votes and nearly 100k absentee votes--overwhelmingly favors the Democrats pic.twitter.com/SLaECHdFeT
— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) January 6, 2021
Just moments earlier—after a large batch of votes from areas in and around the Atlanta metropolitan area in Dekalb County gave both Ossoff and Warnock a massive lift—Democratic organizer and former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams issued cautious words while celebrating where things seem to be heading.
"With new votes joining the tally, we are on a strong path," Abrams tweeted. "But even while we wait for more, let's celebrate the extraordinary organizers, volunteers, canvassers & tireless groups that haven't stopped going since Nov. Across our state, we roared. A few miles to go...but well done!"
Despite the lack of official results or even determinations of likely winners from key decision desks, left-leaning lawmakers on social media and talking heads on cable networks agreed with Abrams that the Democrats were having the kind of night they needed to pull out twin victories that would crucially strip the Republicans of power in the Senate, including taking the Senate Majority Leadership away from Kentucky's Mitch McConnell.
For every organizer, volunteer, campaign staff, donor and cheerleader who is crying tears of joy, we see you and thank you!
Rest up, you have earned it.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 6, 2021
"Say it with me," tweeted Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.): "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell."