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Georgia GOP Chairman, Citing Biden-Only Voters, Strikes Optimistic Note on Senate Run-Offs

U.S. Senators Kelly Loeffler (R., Ga.) and David Perdue (R., Ga.) wear protective face masks as they walk together at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, July 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Democrats in last week’s two Georgia Senate races received almost 100,000 fewer votes than Joe Biden at the top of their party’s ticket, an encouraging sign to the state’s top Republicans who are confident their candidates are the frontrunners in January’s runoff elections.

Republican votes in the Senate races more closely matched President Donald Trump’s totals.

“There were unusually large numbers of people who voted only for Joe Biden and in no other election,” David Shafer, chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, told National Review. “We don’t know what that means. We don’t know if it’s an irregularity or if it’s just evidence that there is support for Republicans down the ticket.”

Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff received just shy of 100,000 fewer votes than Biden. Republican incumbent Sen. David Perdue received about 800 more votes than Trump.

According to unofficial results, Perdue is about 13,000 votes – less than half a percentage point – away from winning the majority he would need to avoid a January runoff.

Eight Democrats running for Georgia’s other Senate seat received about 98,000 fewer votes than Biden, while the six Republicans in the race ran about 36,000 votes behind Trump. Although Democrat Raphael Warnock topped Republican Kelly Loeffler in votes, the six Republican candidates in the race received about 50,000 more combined votes than the eight Democrats. That race too is heading to a January runoff.

Republicans will likely need to win at least one of the two Georgia races in January to maintain Senate control. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said Saturday that if Democrats win the two Georgia races they will be able to “change America.”

“They’ve laid out their plans,” Shafer said of Democrats. “They do intend to change America. The Democrats are united by the belief that America is not a force for good, and they want to fundamentally change it.”

Republicans built up a proven ground game during the general election that saw the party maintain control of the state’s general assembly. They also have an unblemished history of winning statewide runoffs. Shafer said it is “imperative” that Perdue and Loeffler prevail.

“We are going to run as if we are 10 points behind from today until the polls close on run-off election day,” Shafer said.

Georgia Republicans also are calling on the state’s top election leader to take extra precautions before certifying the election results to ensure only legally-cast ballots are counted.

Shafer is calling for embattled Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to verify that no felons voted in the election, and that no voters cast more than one ballot. That was a problem during the June primary election, where about 1,000 people voted in person after also casting a mail-in ballot.

“This election is several times larger than the primary election,” Shafer said, “so there is the possibility of multiple people voting more than once.”

Biden, who declared victory on Saturday, leads Trump by just over 10,000 votes in Georgia, according to an unofficial Associated Press vote tally. Trump would need to flip the results in several states to overtake Biden, a tall order.

Republicans in Georgia also are calling for an audit of voting machines and hand recounts in counties where there have been reports of “irregularities,” Shafer said.

The Republican Party has received complaints from some poll watchers that they were unable to see ballots being counted, and that counting continued after poll watchers were told it was stopping for the night. The day after Election Day, Shafer tweeted that the party was filing a lawsuit after a poll watcher in the Savannah area allegedly saw an “unidentified woman mix over 50 ballots into a stack of uncounted absentee ballots.” The lawsuit was dismissed.

On Monday, Perdue and Loeffler released a joint statement calling on Raffensperger to step down because “the management of Georgia elections has become an embarrassment for our state.”

“There have been too many failures in Georgia elections this year and the most recent election has shined a national light on the problem,” they wrote. “The mismanagement and lack of transparency from the Secretary of State is unacceptable.”

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Ryan Mills is a media reporter at National Review. He previously worked for 14 years as a breaking news reporter, investigative reporter, and editor at newspapers in Florida. Originally from Minnesota, Ryan lives in the Fort Myers area with his wife and two sons.