Washington, Jan 5 (efe-epa).- Voters in Georgia are heading to the polls on Tuesday in two pivotal Senate elections, a pair of runoff contests that will determine control of the upper chamber of the United States Congress in the first two years of President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.
Both outgoing President Donald Trump, a Republican, and Biden campaigned for their parties’ candidates on Monday in the Peach State, where no Democrat has been elected to the Senate in the last two decades.
Biden received 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, and his Electoral College win is expected to be ratified on Wednesday in a joint session of Congress to be overseen by Vice President Mike Pence.
In the Nov. 3 general election, 35 of the 100 Senate seats and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives were up for grabs. Various state and local contests also were held.
In Georgia, where Biden became the first Democrat to win that southeastern state since Bill Clinton in 1992, Senate runoffs became necessary after none of the candidates in the two races obtained a sufficient majority.
The Republican Party is seeking to maintain its tenuous grip on the Senate, while the Democrats are vying to control the presidency and both houses of Congress for the first time since 2008.
Republicans were left with a slim lead of 50-48 in the upper chamber after the Democrats achieved a net gain of one Senate seat on Nov. 3.
If the two Democratic candidates emerge victorious on Tuesday in Georgia, the two parties will have an equal number of seats; Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would then be in a position to cast tie-breaking votes as Senate president starting Jan. 20.
One of the contests pits Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler against Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor at a Baptist church in Atlanta where late civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. served as co-pastor until his assassination in 1968.
According to the average of several recent polls gathered by the website 270towin.com, Warnock leads Loeffler in voter preference by a margin of 50.2 percent to 47.4 percent.
Republican David Perdue, a businessman whose Senate term expired on Sunday, is facing off in the other contest against Democrat Jon Ossoff, an investigative journalist and former congressional staffer.
Ossoff has an identical lead of 50.2 percent to 47.4 percent over Perdue, according to 270towin.com’s poll averages.
Georgia has 7.6 million registered voters, 4.8 million of whom took part in the November general election.
Exceptionally high turnout is expected, with more than 3 million voters having already cast their ballots in the runoff races.
Narrow margins of victory are anticipated, and the most likely scenario is that the winners will not be known on election night. EFE-EPA