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Georgia early vote turnout surpasses 3 million as U.S. Senate control hangs in the balance

Georgia Democratic Senate candidates Raphael Warnock (R) and Jon Ossoff (L) bump elbows during a “It’s Time to Vote” drive-in rally on December 28, 2020 in Stonecrest, Georgia.

Jessica McGowan | Getty Images

More than 3 million Georgia residents have already cast their votes in the two Jan. 5 runoff races, a historic turnout in a contest that determines whether Democrats or Republicans control the U.S. Senate this year.

The Tuesday races are between Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff, as well as Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock.

If Perdue and Loeffler win their races, Republicans would hold a 52 seat Senate majority that would allow them to block some of President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda.

The Democratic caucus would have 50 seats if Ossoff and Warnock win. And a tie-breaking vote from Vice President-elect Harris would give Democrats control of the Senate after six years of a GOP majority.

Democrats currently control the House of Representatives and will continue to control the chamber into 2021. Republicans have a slim majority in the Senate.

President Donald Trump, who has baselessly claimed that Georgia’s two Senate races were invalid, is set to hold a rally in the state for Perdue and Loeffler on Monday.

Biden is scheduled to go to Atlanta on Monday, while Harris will visit Savannah on Sunday to support Ossoff and Warnock. The Democratic candidates have broken fundraising records during their campaigns, each bringing in more than $100 million in the last few months driven largely by small donations.

Ivanka Trump and Senators Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) wave to the crowd at a campaign event on December 21, 2020 in Milton, Georgia.

Elijah Nouvelage | Getty Images

Perdue and Loeffler, strong allies of the president, supported $600 stimulus payments as part of the broader relief package and attacked Democratic opponents for arguing that those payments were not enough. However, they reversed course and broke with many Senate Republicans to support Trump’s demands for $2,000 stimulus checks after Congress passed the bill.

Ossoff and Warnock have closely aligned themselves with Biden’s plan to deliver more coronavirus relief and direct checks to Americans. They’ve condemned their opponents for their handling of the pandemic and have insisted that the GOP senators didn’t do enough to push for a vote on higher stimulus checks in the Senate.

The 3,002,100 early votes comprise 38.8% of all registered voters in Georgia, according to data collected by University of Florida’s U.S. Elections Project. The early vote surpasses the previous total turnout record for a runoffof about 2.1 million ballots cast in the 2008 Senate runoff between Republican Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin.

Data shows that Democrats hold an advantage in early voting turnout in Georgia. Early voting ended on Thursday. Republicans generally see higher Election Day turnout. Voter turnout has lagged in rural, conservative congressional districts in Georgia, specifically in the northwest part of the state where Trump will campaign on Monday, according to local reporting.

Republicans have been accelerating their get-out-the-vote effort. Days before the runoff, Perdue started quarantining after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19. Perdue told Fox News on Saturday that he will not be at the president’s rally on Monday due to his quarantine.

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