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On the current state of the Senate runoff elections in Georgia

I haven’t allowed myself to seriously believe that Georgia Democrats could actually win both the seats up for election on Jan. 5. 

Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock shown during their Sunday night debate in Atlanta, Georgia.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock shown during their Sunday night debate in Atlanta, Georgia.
Ben Gray/Pool via REUTERS

A few commenters (and, yes, I do read them all) have encouraged me to write less about polls. I agree. Poll numbers have been called “crack cocaine for political junkies.”

Again, I agree.

But, being a political junkie, I can’t go cold turkey so soon after an election. And, as you probably know, there is still one more very important election immediately ahead: the double-runoff in Georgia, which could decide control of the U.S. Senate. 

Yes, Democrats would need to win both to create a 50-50 Senate tie. But with an incoming vice president (assuming the Biden-Harris transition occurs in January as even I now expect, despite the incumbent administration still trying to hornswoggle its way out of leaving), 50-50 tie votes would be broken by Vice President Kamala Harris, who is believed to lean toward the Democrats.

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I haven’t allowed myself to seriously believe that the two Georgia Democrats could sweep those seats, although it’s worth mentioning that (notwithstanding the Trumpian insistence to the contrary) Georgia did go blue in the presidential race by a just re-certified 12,000 vote margin.

So, with apologies in advance for writing about polls, I note that the political number crunchers at FiveThirtyEight yesterday analyzed all the polling and concluded that the Democrats both hold tiny, statistically insignificant leads in both runoffs. Did I mention that these leads are so tiny as to be statistically insignificant?

Again, I don’t vouch for these, and the FiveThirtyEighters would surely agree that the leads are so small that the races should be viewed as absolute toss-ups. But, according to FiveThirtyEight, the current state of the two races is:

Democrat Jon Ossoff leads incumbent Republican David Perdue (a gazillionaire who is getting a lot of negative attention for making several big stock trades with the possible benefit of insider information) by a teensy recent poll average of 48.7 to 47.9 percent.

In the other seat, Democratic candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock leads (unelected-but-appointed) Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler by a slightly larger but still well-within-the-margin-for-error margin of 49.2 to 47.0 percent.

FiveThirtyEight’s Monday morning updates of both races, headlined “What The Polls Say About Georgia’s Senate Runoffs,” is viewable here.

The runoff is set for Jan. 5.  If it’s as close as they say, don’t expect any of us will know much for certain that night. We should, or may, know the outcome on Jan. 6, or 7 or…