Why Is There a Runoff Election in Georgia for the Senate? It's a Big Deal

Why is there a runoff election in Georgia? Two key races in the state will determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the U.S. Senate.

Michelle Stein - Author

Dec. 6 2020, Updated 1:28 p.m. ET

georgia runnoff election
Source: Getty Images

It was a tense four days of uncertainty following Election Day 2020 — but the presidential race was finally called in favor of President-elect Joe Biden on Nov. 7. What many voters outside of Georgia might not have realized at the time was that two crucial races are still in limbo, and they will determine which party has control over the U.S. Senate.

So why is there a runoff election in Georgia for the Senate? Let's take a closer look.

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Why is there a runoff election in Georgia for the Senate?

On Jan. 5, 2021, a runoff election will be held in Georgia — and not one, but two U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs. While it's not unusual to have a runoff in Georgia, the fact that more than one runoff race is happening is pretty rare.

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Source: Getty Images
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Sen. David Perdue, a Republican, faced a typical re-election race for the seat she won in 2014.

However, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who is also a Republication, was appointed in 2019 to take over for Sen. Johnny Isakson when he retired due to health concerns. She faced a special election on Nov. 2 in order to serve out the rest of his term until 2022.

Per Georgia law, if no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote, then the top two candidates advance to a runoff election in order to determine a winner.

Loeffler ran against Democrat Jon Ossoff, but neither broke the 50-percent barrier.

Likewise, neither Perdue nor his Democratic challenger, the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, received at least 50 percent of the vote. So they, too, will take their race to the January runoff election in Georgia.

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Source: Twitter

Here's why the Georgia runoff election is such a big deal.

The outcome of the Georgia runoff election is kind of a big deal, in case you weren't already aware. That's because it will determine which party has control of the U.S. Senate come January 2021.

Here's why: Democrats need to win both Georgia seats in order to get 50 senators and lock in a 50-50 tie with Republicans in the Senate. President-elect Kamala Harris would then be the tie-breaking vote, which would give Democrats the ability to carry out the Democratic agenda.

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If the Republican candidate wins one or both of the races in the Georgia runoff election, however, that means Republicans will maintain their majority — albeit by a slim margin — in the U.S. Senate.

Source: Twitter

According to Georgia law, the election runoffs take place on the Tuesday of the ninth week after the election. This means Georgia residents will vote on Jan. 5, and will need to be registered to do so by Dec. 7. Early voting begins on Dec. 14.

In the meantime, you can bet both Democrats and Republicans will be throwing a ton of money at The Peach State in an effort to get out the vote for their respective parties.

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