Georgia Senate Runoffs Becoming Turnout Battle

December 18, 2020

This article originally appeared on BIPAC's blog. Written by BIPAC Political Analyst Jim Ellis.

Key Takeaways

  • President: Electoral College vote
  • President-2024: Already new primary poll
  • GA-Sen: New special runoff election polls
  • CA-21; 39: Rematches already being set
  • NM-1: Rep. Deb Haaland nominated Interior Secretary
  • Gov ‘22 Maneuvering: MD; MA; MN; OH
  • Mayor: Rep. Max Rose (D) files NYC mayoral committee


Electoral College:  The Electoral College members met on December 14th in the 50 state capitals and officially made Democrat Joe Biden President-Elect of the United States.  Unlike in many years – 2016, for example, when seven electors did not support the candidate of their state – the total was exactly 306-232 electoral votes, properly reflecting the split among the eligible voting electorates. 

In 29 states and the District of Columbia, the electors are bound by state law to cast the electoral vote at the direction of the voters.  In 21 states, however, the electors are free to stray from the state mandate.  Next in the electoral process, the totals will be reported to the Congress on January 6th, at which point, Mr. Biden will be officially elected.

2024:  McLaughlin & Associates has already posted a survey to test the potential 2024 Republican and Democratic presidential nomination fields.  The poll was conducted during the December 9-13 period of 1,000 likely voters through live interviews. 

The McLaughlin results find President Trump dominating the Republican field at 56%, followed by Vice President Mike Pence recording 11%.  In single-digits are Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) with 5% support, Mitt Romney (R-UT) 4%, and former UN Ambassador and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley at 3% preference.  For the Democrats, assuming President-Elect Joe Biden does not seek a second term, former First Lady Michelle Obama leads Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris, 29-25%, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) attracting 7% support.


Georgia:  The Insider Advantage polling firm just released new surveys that find both Republican contenders forging small leads over their Democratic rivals, margins consistent when compared with earlier polling.

According to the IA data (12/14; 500 GA likely voters; live interview), Sens. David Perdue (R) and Kelly Loeffler (R) hold an identical 49-48% edge over Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively.  This is more evidence that the Georgia runoffs are becoming a turnout battle.  The party best convincing their voters to participate will likely win both campaigns.

A pair of previously released Georgia Senate runoff polls also found the two races in toss-up mode.  The Atlanta-based Trafalgar Group (12/8-10; 1,018 GA likely runoff voters; combination online and text responses) sees Sen. David Perdue (R) and documentary filmmaker Jon Ossoff (D) tied at 49% apiece.  In the special election, Trafalgar posts appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) to a three-point lead over Rev. Raphael Warnock (D), 50-47%.

The Fabrizio Ward/Hart Research team, featuring a bipartisan Republican and Democratic survey research approach (11/30-12/4; 1,250 GA likely voters; live interview with an emphasis on those 50 years of age and older), on behalf of the AARP organization, projects a similar result in the pair of campaigns but with the Democrats in better position.  Fabrizio/Hart data finds Mr. Ossoff holding a two-point, 48-46% lead, with Rev. Warnock up a point, 47-46%, over Sen. Loeffler. 

Kentucky:  State Rep. Charles Booker (D-Louisville), who lost a 45-43% Democratic Senate primary bid to retired Marine Corps helicopter pilot Amy McGrath earlier in the year, is apparently not closing the door on potentially entering the 2022 Senate field to challenge Sen. Rand Paul (R).  He recently told political news reporters to “stay tuned,” with regard to his future statewide electoral plans.


CA-21:  Fresh from losing his congressional seat, freshman Rep. T.J. Cox (D-Fresno) said this week that he will run again in 2022.  Mr. Cox lost to former US Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford/Bakersfield) in November by 1,522 votes, or one full percentage point. In 2018, Mr. Cox unseated Rep. Valadao by 862 votes. 

The two regular political combatants, however, are already not alone in the 2022 candidate field.  Former state Assemblywoman Nicole Parra (D-Hanford), who served a three-term stint in the legislature more than a decade ago when the term limits law only allowed her a six-year service period, has already announced that she will also become a congressional candidate in the next election cycle. 

CA-29:  Fresh from a November 57-43% defeat at the hands of Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Pacoima/Los Angeles) in a double-Democratic general election, Human Resources executive Angelica Duenas (D) says she will make another run for the House in 2022.  Ms. Duenas raised only $80,839 for her 2020 campaign, so her political apparatus must substantially improve if she is to become a serious intra-party challenger to the five-term Congressman.

CA-39:  Outgoing California Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-Yorba Linda) is already contemplating a re-match with Rep-Elect Young Kim (R) who defeated him in November.  In public remarks during the week, Mr. Cisneros said that “everything is on the table” for the future while acknowledging that he could run again in what is now an Orange, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles County district.  Redistricting, of course, will play a large role for all potential incumbents and candidates, which adds even more uncertainty to the 2022 pre-candidate filing periods. 

MD-5:  Local Greenbelt, Maryland Mayor Colin Byrd announced that he will challenge House Majority Leader and 21-term incumbent Representative Steny Hoyer (D-Mechanicsville) in the 2022 Democratic primary.  Mayor Byrd, who was elected to his position when just 27 years of age, said that Mr. Hoyer "can no longer represent adequately more diverse places like Prince George’s County and Charles County."  In 2020, Mr. Hoyer also faced a Democratic primary challenge and was re-nominated with a 64-27% margin. 

Though he is not likely to unseat the veteran congressional leader, Mayor Byrd has the potential of becoming a credible challenger, so this situation merits watching. 

NM-1:  New Mexico US Rep. Deb Haaland (D-Albuquerque), the former chair of the New Mexico Democratic Party and one of the first Native American females to be elected to the House of Representatives, has been nominated as President-Elect Joe Biden’s Secretary of the Interior.  Upon confirmation and resignation from the House, a special election will be scheduled to replace her in the New Mexico congressional delegation.

Rep. Haaland will be the third Democratic House member to join the Biden Administration.  She will join Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH).  Mr. Richmond has been appointed as the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, while Ms. Fudge is slated to become Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  


Maryland:  Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is ineligible to seek a third term in 2022, and already potential open seat candidates are beginning to stir.  There is clear reason to believe this Governor’s mansion will return to the Democratic column after the 2022 election since Maryland is one of the bluest states in the country. 

Three names surfacing this week as potential Democratic candidates are State Comptroller Peter Franchot, US Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Baltimore), and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski.  Former Lt. Governor and Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele is the only prominent Republican so far being discussed.

Massachusetts:  Former Massachusetts state Representative Geoff Diehl (R-Plymouth), who was the Republican US Senate nominee against incumbent Elizabeth Warren (D) in 2018, is making political noises suggesting he is considering challenging Gov. Charlie Baker (R) for nomination.  Gov. Baker continues to be rated as one of the most liked Governors in the nation, often placing first in such polling among the 50 state chief executives, but those strong numbers largely come from the state’s Democratic voters.  His standing within his own Republican Party is much weaker. 

There are also several Massachusetts Democratic names coming to the forefront.  Already announced for Governor is Harvard University political theorist Danielle Allen.  Media reports suggest that Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone (D) is also testing the waters for a statewide run.  Additionally, they mention top Democratic politicos such as Attorney General Maura Healey, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and former state Senator Ben Downing as possible candidates, but there is no evidence that any of them will launch a campaign.  Despite Massachusetts’ strong Democratic foundation, Gov. Baker appears well positioned to win a third term.

One individual who immediately said he won’t challenge Mr. Baker is outgoing Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Newton).  Mr. Kennedy, just coming off a long US Senate primary campaign that he lost to Sen. Ed Markey (D), said this week that he is looking forward to “taking a breather from elective politics,” but holding a position within the new Biden Administration would be of interest.

Minnesota:  Political blog reports in Minnesota indicate that two-term Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Hermantown/Duluth) is assessing his viability as a potential 2022 challenger to Gov. Tim Walz (D).  The potential political move makes sense for Rep. Stauber since Minnesota is likely to lose a congressional seat in reapportionment.  With less population in the northern part of the state, there is a good chance that Rep. Stauber and incoming Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R), who just unseated 30-year congressional veteran Collin Peterson (D), could conceivably be paired in one large northern Minnesota congressional district. 

North Carolina:  Last Saturday, North Carolina State Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley conceded her statewide judicial election to Republican Paul Newby, an Associate Justice of the court.  After a full recount and the beginning of a hand sampling recount, Ms. Beasley ended the race, losing with a margin of just 413 votes from more than 5.4 million ballots cast.

Because the North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice appoints special judicial panels, the new Republican chief justice will have the power to set the three-judge panels who will eventually hear redistricting challenges once the legislature enacts post reapportionment maps.  North Carolina will receive at least one new congressional seat when the 2020 census apportionment is announced sometime after the first of the year.

Ohio:  Former US Rep. Jim Renacci (R), who held Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) to a 53-47% win in 2018, again made statements suggesting he will soon launch a primary campaign effort against Gov. Mike DeWine (R).  Mr. Renacci was quoted on Twitter saying, "I will be either supporting candidates who are taking [Gov DeWine] on or running against him myself." 

The Governor has come under fire in Republican circles for his strong anti-COVID economic shutdown measures.  Therefore, whether Mr. Renacci eventually enters the race remains a question, but it does appear that Gov. DeWine is likely to face GOP primary opposition in 2022.


New York City:  Rep. Max Rose (D-Staten Island), who lost his congressional seat to state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R) in November, has filed a campaign committee for the 2021 New York City Mayor’s race.  Mr. Rose, however, stopped short of officially announcing his candidacy. 

Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang was quoted as saying that he won’t make a decision about the Mayor’s race until after the Georgia Senate runoff elections are completed since he is working to help the Democratic candidates.  Reports suggest, however, that he is making moves to establish a campaign and will join the burgeoning field of 11 candidates, including Rep. Rose, who are vying to replace term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio.