Democratic hopes of winning two second-round US Senate races in Georgia and regaining control of the upper house have been bolstered by clashes between Donald Trump and congressional Republicans stimulus payments, say political analysts.
The Jan. 5 polls pitted Republican incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler against Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. Second-round votes are mandatory under state law, as no candidate in either race received 50 percent of the vote in the November 3 election.
Control of the Senate is at stake, and with it the prospects of an elected president Joe biden to get his agenda through Congress, where the Democratic Party controls the House of Representatives. If Democrats win both Georgia races, Senate seats would be split 50-50, meaning Kamala Harris, as vice president, would be able to break any ties.
Mr Trump has cast a shadow over Georgia’s races by breaking away from his party and pushing for $ 2,000 stimulus payments to most adult Americans – even after he signed in law Sunday, a $ 900 billion stimulus bill including means-tested payments of $ 600.
As the Democratic House this week approved payments of $ 2,000, Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader in the Senate, said Wednesday night that the proposal had “no realistic path to pass quickly” in the Republican-controlled upper house of Congress.
National opinion polls show the majority of Americans support larger payments – and in Georgia, political agents warn Democrats have been effective in blaming Washington’s standoff squarely on Republicans in Congress.
Data for Progress, a progressive sounder, has survey of probable voters in Georgia last month, and found that 63% said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported additional coronavirus relief screening, compared with 10% who said they would be less susceptible.
“It’s played heavily enough here that Republicans don’t care about you, and don’t want you to have help during this crippling pandemic, and Democrats are doing it,” said Bill Crane, a senior political analyst at Atlanta who worked for candidates from both parties. “These are the messages that get a lot more airtime, a lot more airing.”
More than 2.5 million people in Georgia voted at the start of two rounds of the Senate, in person or by mail, according to the University of Florida. American Elections Project. Hundreds of thousands more are expected to vote in person on Tuesday, setting a state record for voter turnout in a runoff. Voting tends to attract fewer voters than general elections.
Nearly 5 million people voted in Georgia’s Nov. 3 election, making Biden the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the southern state in nearly three decades . Mr Biden beat Mr Trump in Georgia by a margin of just under 12,000 votes, leading the president to do unfounded claims that the result was rigged against him.
Democrats and Republicans agree that the two rounds of voting are also likely to be decided by narrow margins. An average of five and thirty-eight recent polls shows Mr Ossoff leading Mr Perdue by 1 percentage point, and Mr Warnock leading Ms Loeffler by 2 points – both within the margin of error.
Mr. Ossoff and Mr. Warnock, who lead coordinated campaigns, made economic relief a central message, calling first to include $ 1,200 stimulus checks in the package Mr. Trump approved on Sunday.
Democrats increased their demands this month after Mr Trump called for payments of $ 2,000 and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi approved his request.
Mr Perdue and Ms Loeffler were initially silent on the need for more stimulus checks, and Mr McConnell has reportedly only signed the direct payments of $ 600 amid growing concerns about racing in Georgia.
The New York Times first reported Two weeks ago, Mr McConnell said in a private phone call that Republicans were “getting hammered” for the failure of lawmakers to agree on another round of economic relief.
After a deal was struck on Capitol Hill shortly before Christmas, Mr Perdue and Ms Loeffler defended the $ 900 billion relief bill – before changing their tone this week to stay in touch with the president.
In separate appearances on Fox News on Tuesday, the two Republicans said they decided to approve the $ 2,000 payments. Mr. Perdue said it was “the right thing for people to do in Georgia”.
Mr Ossoff accused his Republican opponent of caring “for himself, not for the Georgian people”. Mr Warnock adopted a similar tone, saying Georgian voters could not “trust Kelly Loeffler to look after anyone other than herself”.
GOP strategist Doug Heye said Republican senators made the calculated decision to curry favor with Mr. Trump, who continued to enjoy support from his right-wing base and was scheduled to hold a rally in rural Georgia in the day before Tuesday’s elections.
Mr. Trump tweeted this week that Republicans “must approve” payments of $ 2,000 “unless [they] have a death wish ”.
“[Mr Perdue and Ms Loeffler] feel they should be exactly where Donald Trump is, ”Heye said. “It’s very easy to see how he could go after one of those two, or both, and it could cost them the race. . . In a second round, the only thing they can’t afford is to be criticized by Donald Trump.