President-elect Joe Biden will travel to Georgia next week in order to campaign on behalf of Democratic candidates in the state’s two Senate runoff elections taking place next month.
Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are running against incumbent Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, respectively, in runoff elections on January 5.
Biden defeated Trump in Georgia by a margin of over 12,000 votes, according to the most recent election numbers, becoming the first Democrat to win the state in a presidential race since 1992.
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The president-elect’s plans to visit the state will be just the second time that he has left his home state of Delaware since he was declared the winner of the election. Biden has limited his travels out of precaution for coronavirus, leaving just once to travel to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for Veterans Day services.
Biden’s visit, according to reporting from Politico, is set to take place on December 15 — exactly 6 weeks after Election Day.
Biden’s influence in the state will likely help turn out the vote for the Democratic Party. The two senatorial races will determine the makeup of the United States Senate — and whether Republicans or Democrats will be in control of the “upper chamber” of Congress when it convenes next year.
Both Ossoff and Warnock have to win their respective races for there to be a 50-50 split in the Senate, after which Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will become the tie-breaking vote in the chamber, in her constitutional role as president of the Senate.
While Biden’s presence will likely be embraced by the Democratic candidates, the same couldn’t be said when President Donald Trump came to Georgia last weekend to campaign for the Republicans. Trump is effective at generating his base to act, but some Republican insiders in the state saw his comments about the election that took place last month, including his errant insistence that Georgia’s elections were rife with fraud, as possibly doing more harm than good for their cause.
Those Republican voices believe that such rhetoric will dampen voter enthusiasm, resulting in fewer votes for their candidates, and possibly delivering a win for Democrats, as the president’s base of supporters may view such an election as pointless if they cannot trust the voting process. Some allies of the president have even insisted that GOP voters in Georgia boycott the runoff elections entirely unless significant changes are made before they take place.
Concerns over Republican voter enthusiasm, however, did not stop Trump from continuing to peddle his baseless fraud claims in Georgia last weekend.
“If I lost, I would be a very gracious loser. But you can’t even accept when they steal and rig and rob,” Trump said during a rally in the state last Saturday.
While the concerns of driving voters away are real, Loeffler and Perdue may have calculated that going against Trump on the topic is more damaging to their prospects. Just this past week, both Republican candidates joined in support of a lawsuit from Texas seeking to toss out votes in Georgia and in three other states, and to allow the Republican-controlled legislatures from those states to pick representatives for the Electoral College instead — a move that would hand the 2020 election to Trump.
Legal experts largely agree that the lawsuit in question does not have much of a chance to be heard by the Supreme Court, let alone be won, if the High Court agrees to hear the case at all.
Polling on both runoff races currently shows a slight advantage for Democrats.