The Runoff Report: Trump, Pence, Obama headline rallies for GA runoff candidates

Republicans have secured 50 seats in the next U.S. Senate compared to Democrats’ 48 (including two independents who caucus with them). Control of the next Senate comes down to Georgia’s runoff elections. In The Runoff Report, we provide the latest on each race and the fight for Senate control.

Regular election updates

David Perdue appeared at a town hall with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham Dec. 3. Regarding suburban women, Perdue said, “They want to know when they get their lives back to normal. They’re worried about the safety of their kids, the safety of their neighborhoods, and so forth. They want the police funded and defended. They don’t want to defund the police. That’s ridiculous. So a lot of people who … maybe voted against Trump, for whatever reason, we think may come back to us because they see the value of split government.”

Jon Ossoff released a new ad. He said: “Look, thousands of Americans are dying a day. Our lives have been turned upside down, and they’re doing nothing in Washington. David Perdue had his chance, but he was too busy looking after his stock portfolio. And now he’s blocking relief for the rest of us. We can defeat this virus by listening to doctors and scientists. We can pass direct economic relief. We can get our daily lives back, but only if we vote.”

This election is for a full six-year term ending January 2027. Perdue was first elected in 2014. Ossoff ran against Karen Handel (R) in the 6th Congressional District special election in 2017.

Click here for more coverage of the regular election.

Special election updates

Kelly Loeffler announced her “Prosperity Plan,” which she said is “a comprehensive package designed to serve economically distressed communities and promote success by spurring investment and revitalization in our country’s most underserved areas.” It includes the Economic Empowerment for Underserved Communities Act, which Loeffler said “will expand access to the capital required to support minority-owned businesses, create jobs and promote economic revitalization.”

The Georgia Working Families Party will lead virtual phone-banking events for Raphael Warnock Mondays through Thursdays.

The special election will fill the remainder of the term Johnny Isakson (R) won in 2016. He resigned in Dec. 2019, and Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Loeffler, co-owner of the WNBA team Atlanta Dream. Warnock is senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church. The winner will complete the term ending in January 2023. 

Click here for more coverage of the special election.

Overall campaign updates

  • Vice President Mike Pence will headline a “Defend the Majority” rally at 2:30 p.m. Friday along with Loeffler, Perdue, and Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald in Savannah. This is Pence’s second runoff campaign trip to the state—he headlined two rallies on Nov. 20. 
  • Also Friday, former President Barack Obama is headlining a virtual get-out-the-vote rally with Ossoff and Warnock at 2:45 p.m. U.S. Rep.-elect Nikema Williams (D) and 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams will also attend.
  • President Donald Trump will headline a rally with Perdue, Loeffler, and McDonald at the Valdosta Regional Airport beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Republican National Committee is hosting the rally.
  • Reminder: Warnock and Loeffler debate Sunday at 7 p.m. Ossoff is scheduled to appear alone at 5 p.m. as Perdue declined the Atlanta Press Club’s invitation.

Today: Concurrent Senate election history

Georgia was the only state with elections for both of its U.S. Senate seats this year. This is the 56th time a state has held concurrent elections for its Senate seats since 1913, when the 17th Amendment established the popular election of U.S. senators.

Some overall stats:

  • Democrats won both seats 24 times
  • Republicans won both seats 23 times
  • A Democrat and Republican each won a seat 8 times (15%)
  • Appointed incumbents lost the general election 5 times
  • Elected incumbents lost the general election 7 times
  • Seats changed party hands in 20 of the 110 elections (18%)—there were 14 Republican gains and 6 Democratic gains

The last time…

  • The last time Georgia held concurrent Senate elections was 1932.
  • The last time a Senate seat changed party hands in concurrent elections was 1994, when Republicans won both Democratic-held seats in Tennessee. 
  • That was also the last time an incumbent lost a general election during concurrent Senate elections. Bill Frist (R) defeated elected Sen. Jim Sasser (D-Tenn.) in the regular election for the Class I seat. Concurrent Senate elections took place 7 times between 1994 and 2018.
  • The last time a Democrat and Republican each won a seat in concurrent Senate elections was 1966, when incumbent Strom Thurmond (R) and Ernest Hollings (D) won South Carolina’s Senate races. Thurmond switched his affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 1964. Hollings defeated appointed incumbent Donald Russell in the Democratic primary. He then defeated Marshall Parker—who switched affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 1966—in the general. Concurrent Senate elections took place 11 times between 1966 and 2018.

Note: We didn’t include Mississippi’s 2018 Senate elections in the counts above, as the special election proceeded to a runoff and was not decided on the same day as the regular election. Republicans retained both seats in those elections.

See this article by Geoffrey Skelley at Sabato’s Crystal Ball and this article by Dr. Eric Ostermeier for more information.