What the heck is happening with the Georgia Senate races?

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The state is still counting votes, and Democrats may still have a chance of taking back the Senate.

Whether Democrats or Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate remains to be seen — and the outcome may not be until next year.

Who won?

There are two U.S. Senate races ongoing in Georgia, and the winners for both races are still unknown.

What happens now?

A runoff will take place next year on Jan. 5 between incumbent GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler and her Democratic challenger, the Rev. Raphael Warnock.

Neither candidate received 50% of the vote in the November election, which was needed to avoid a runoff. Warnock, who preaches at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King Jr. once did, got 33% of the vote, according to the New York Times. Loeffler, who is a staunch Trump ally, received 26%, beating out Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), another Trump loyalist, who received 20%.

In the other Georgia Senate race, incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue currently has 50% of the vote, while Democrat Jon Ossoff is not far behind, with nearly 48%, according to the New York Times. About 3% of the estimated vote total still needs to be reported there.

Perdue, who also ran a pro-Trump campaign, and Ossoff could also face a runoff on Jan. 5 if Perdue falls below 50% of the vote when the tally is completed.

Votes are still being counted in Atlanta and other blue-leaning areas.

As the race tightens, the Ossoff campaign is not calling it quits.

"The votes are still being counted, but we are confident that Jon Ossoff's historic performance in Georgia has forced Senator David Perdue to continue defending his indefensible record of unemployment, disease, and corruption. When a runoff is called and held in January, Georgians are going to send Jon to the Senate to defend their health care and put the interests of working families and small businesses ahead of corporate lobbyists. Georgians are sick and tired of the endless failure, incompetence, and corruption of Senator Perdue and Donald Trump," Ellen Foster, Ossoff's campaign manager, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Perdue is not letting up, with his campaign manager Ben Fry saying, "If overtime is required when all of the votes have been counted, we're ready, and we will win."

When will those results be known?

According to Gabriel Sterling, the voting system implementation manager, the count should be finished by the end of the day Thursday. He noted on Thursday morning there were approximately 60,000 ballots left to be counted.

What happens if the challengers win?

With results for four U.S. Senate races still pending, Democrats and Republicans each currently hold 48 seats.

In North Carolina, Republican Sen. Thom Tillis is ahead with 48.7% against his Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham, at 46.9% of votes.

In Alaska, Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan is ahead with 62.9% of votes against Democrat Al Gross, who has 31.8% of votes.

If Tillis and Sullivan, both incumbents, win their respective Senate races, that will give the GOP 50 seats in the Senate.

In that scenario, Democrats still have a chance of gaining control of the Senate, albeit a slim one. With 48 Senate seats locked, the party would need to win both races in Georgia — and Joe Biden would need to win the presidency. Democrats and Republicans would then hold 50 Senate seats each, and Biden's vice president, Kamala Harris, would serve as the tie-breaking vote for the chamber.

Democrats have flipped two Senate seats this year: one in Colorado, where former Gov. John Hickenlooper beat Sen. Cory Gardner; and one in Arizona, where former astronaut Mark Kelly defeated Sen. Martha McSally.

Republicans netted one Senate seat in Alabama when vulnerable incumbent Democrat Doug Jones lost to Tommy Tuberville, a former football coach who faced allegations of fraud. Jones is a former U.S. attorney who won in a special election for former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' vacant seat in 2017.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.