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Georgia Senate campaign trail intensifies as majority control hangs in the balance

Published: Dec. 24, 2020 at 9:01 AM EST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- More than 1.6 million Georgians have already voted in the Senate runoffs, rivaling early voting turnout for the presidential election this year. With less than two weeks until election day, the campaign trail is intensifying in the Peach State.

“This is – it’s like a presidential election on steroids,” said University of Georgia Professor Charles Bullock.

With control of the U.S. Senate coming down to Georgia, high-profile Republicans and Democrats from far and wide are campaigning in the Peach State. This week, Ivanka Trump rallied for GOP Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in Georgia, while Vice President-elect Kamala Harris stumped for Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

“You wonder how much difference it will make. Most people are going to go and they’re going to go vote their party,” said Bullock. “So you’re trying to mobilize your people and get them to come back.

The campaigns and special interest groups are flooding the airwaves, with hundreds of millions already spent on advertising. Bullock says this level of spending is unprecedented, and may hit one billion dollars by the end of the campaign cycle.

“That could have an important impact on the Georgia economy, the amount of money being spent here,” said Bullock.

Bullock says what’s also unprecedented is that majority control of the Senate is still undecided weeks after the general election, and comes down to a pair of Senate runoffs.

“Tf either side felt like we got this in the bag, they’d begin to pull back. But they’re leaving no door un-knocked, no mailbox unfilled with mail-outs,” said Bullock.

Bullock says the GOP’s top message to voters is that if Democrats win, socialists would run the government, while the Democrats argue the incumbent Republicans are using their positions to feather their own nests – amid a pandemic.

Ultimately, Bullock says all the campaigning and spending is designed to turn out the base, while persuading just a handful of swing voters. For the Republicans, Bullock sees the candidates targeting white, well-educated suburban women. For Democrats, Bullock says energizing African American voters will be key to their strategy.

“You spend an awful lot of money trying to move very few people to probably get them to turn out,” said Bullock.

After recounts and lawsuits following the November presidential race, Biden won the state by just around 12,000 votes. Bullock says polling has been limited for these runoffs, and what has been published shows the races within the margin of error.

Election day is January 5th.

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