Decision Desk HQ: Republicans lose both GA runoffs -- and control of the Senate

There’s always the midterms. Get used to that mantra, because it’s going to be a long two years — for both parties, but Republicans in particular. Georgia Democrats won both Senate runoff races yesterday, as our partners Decision Desk HQ called overnight.

The Jon Ossoff-David Perdue race is still close enough to likely result in a recount, but not anywhere close enough for a recount to matter. Ossoff leads by 16,400-plus votes, and as we have all learned again this cycle, recounts don’t shift that many votes. They matter in the two- and three-digit gaps, not in the five-digit gaps. Any recount in this race will only nibble at these margins.

Raphael Warnock ended up beating Kelly Loeffler by an even wider margin — 54,000-plus votes. That got called relatively early in the counting by both DDHQ and other media outlets. Loeffler, like Perdue, got out to an early lead thanks to the counting of Election Day ballots first and the timing of reporting from GOP-friendly counties, but it was never much of a lead. It became clear pretty quickly that later counts from early and absentee balloting would put Warnock over the top, but for a while Perdue seemed to have a chance for a split decision.

Jazz will have some analysis of this in a bit, but let’s take a look at what this means. With a 50-50 split, incoming VP Kamala Harris will cast the tie-breaking vote on leadership, and she ain’t voting for Mitch McConnell. Chuck Schumer will become Senate Majority Leader and Democrats will take control of the floor and all committees. That may end up being a headache when it comes to policy, as the legislative filibuster won’t be going anywhere, but it promises a carte blanche to Joe Biden on his appointments, especially at first.

Some Republicans still hope Joe Manchin will flip parties and put McConnell and the GOP in charge of the Senate. His constituents would certainly prefer that, but it seems a lot less likely now. The move by Senate Republicans to challenge the Electoral College votes, along with Donald Trump’s constant streams of conspiracy-theory rants, has almost certainly made that move toxic, at least for a while. Instead, now Republicans have to worry about losing Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and/or Mitt Romney on a regular basis when it comes to policy votes. None of them will flip to the Democrats, but with that kind of softness at the center, Manchin will probably figure he can wait for a while to see how Schumer handles the leadership.

The GOP blew this election, but … Jazz is writing that post. Stay tuned.