DEMOCRATS are set to control the Senate as they won both runoffs in Goergia and Donald Trump has slammed the "worse than third world election."
A number of outlets have now called the race in Raphael Warnock's favor, although the Republicans have so far refused to concede, and outgoing President Trump has renewed unfounded claims of voter fraud.
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According to the latest results, Democrat Raphael Warnock has gained 50.7 per cent of the vote, compared to the incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler who took 49.3 per cent of the vote.
In the other battle, Democrat Jon Ossoff, 33, took 50.3 per cent of the vote while Republican David Perdue managed 49.7 per cent.
In both cases, 98 per cent of the vote had been counted but both lead by margins that are larger than the threshold required to trigger a recount under Georgia law.
With the two wins for the Democrats this now reshapes the political landscape in Washington DC.
They now have a slender lead in the House and Senate, where Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will break 50-50 ties.
Democrats will control the committees and the legislation and nominations brought to the floor, giving President-elect Joe Biden some muscle to push through his agenda.
If his win is confirmed, Warnock will be Georgia's first black senator and the first black Democrat to represent a southern state in the Senate.
Early on Wednesday morning, Ossoff appeared to declare early victory in a statement.
"It is with humility that I thank the people of Georgia for electing me to serve you in the United States Senate," he said.
Later that afternoon several media outlets started to confirm Ossoff as the winner.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also prematurely announced a blue victory and congratulated the Senators on Twitter.
However, in a string of disputed tweets, Trump fumed that the country is "embarrassed by fools," and that the "election process is worse than that of third world countries."
He once again called on Vice President Mike Pence to send votes "back to the States," saying "do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!"
He later fumed that: "These scoundrels are only toying with the @sendavidperdue (a great guy) vote. Just didn’t want to announce quite yet. They’ve got as many ballots as are necessary. Rigged Election!"
If both of Georgia's seats go to the Democrats, it would give them a majority in the Senate and make it much easier for Joe Biden to pursue his legislative agenda.
Had both Loeffler and Perdue won re-election, Republicans would have maintained their majority of 52-48 seats.
Dual losses for the Republican Party would likely weaken Trump's grip of the GOP after he leaves the White House, as well as his false narrative of voter fraud in elections including the presidential race.
Democrats must win both contests to take control of the Senate.
A Democratic sweep would create a 50-50 split in the Senate and give Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, as president of the Senate, the tie-breaking vote after she and Biden take office on January 20.
The party already has a narrow majority in the US House of Representatives.
If Republicans hold the second seat, they will effectively wield veto power over Biden’s political and judicial appointees as well as many of his legislative initiatives in areas such as economic relief from the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, healthcare and criminal justice.
NBC News was the first network to call the vote in Warnock's favour.
As of 2am, Warnock lead Loeffler by 1.9 percentage points with about 98 percent of precincts reporting, according to The New York Times' election needles.
In a speech delivered on Youtube, Warnock said: "We were told we couldn’t win this election, but tonight we proved that, with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible.
"I am so honored by the faith that you have shown in me, and I promise you this: I am going to the Senate to work for Georgia, all of Georgia, no matter who you cast your vote for in this election."
Loeffler has so far refused to concede victory, telling supporters: "Every single American, stay in the fight with us.
"We are going to keep fighting for you. I work for you, I don't owe anyone up there anything."
In the race for Georgia's other Senate seat, challenger Ossoff ran ahead of Perdue by 1.1 percentage point with about 98 percent of the votes in.
The remaining votes are in counties that are Democratic strongholds.
Though Ossoff trailed Perdue by about 10,000 votes, Cobb and DeKalb counties, which had not yet reported, are heavily Democratic.
As the runoffs appeared to pull away from the GOP, President Donald Trump floated conspiracy theories about the results shaping up.
Shortly after midnight, Trump tweeted: "Just happened to have found another 4000 ballots from Fulton County. Here we go!"
The president lodged more general claims about election fraud late Tuesday.
"Looks like they are setting up a big 'voter dump' against the Republican candidates," Trump tweeted.
"Waiting to see how many votes they need?"
Trump earlier called the election a "fraud," claiming Dominion voting machines were not working for an hour in Republican strongholds and ballots were being left in locked boxes.
In a tweet on Tuesday, President-elect Joe Biden said, "Georgia – The nation is looking to you to lead us forward."
"The power is in your hands," he added.
An exit poll of more than 5,200 voters released by Edison Research found that half had voted for Trump in November and half for Biden.
The voters were also evenly split on whether Democrats or Republicans should control the Senate.
The survey included both early voters and voters who cast ballots on Tuesday.
Georgia's polling sites closed at 7pm, although a handful of locations were staying open later after earlier delays.
Warnock and Ossoff jumped to early leads in preliminary voting returns, data compiled by Edison Research showed on Tuesday.
In Smyrna, about 16 miles northwest of Atlanta, Terry Deuel said he voted Republican to ensure a check on Democratic power.
"The Democrats are going to raise taxes," the 58-year-old handyman said.
"And Biden wants to give everyone free money – $2,000 each or something like that for Covid stimulus? Where are we going to get the money?"
Ann Henderson, 46, cast ballots at the same location for Ossoff and Warnock, saying she wanted to break Washington's gridlock by delivering the Senate to Democrats.
"It's the social issues – civil rights, racial equality, voting rights, pandemic response," she said.
"If we take it, maybe we can get something done for a change."
The two Senate runoff elections are leftovers from the November general election, when none of the candidates hit the 50 percent threshold.
The unusual importance for the runoffs has transformed Georgia, once a solidly Republican state, into one of the nation's premier battlegrounds during the final days of Trump's presidency.
Biden and Trump campaigned for their candidates in person on the eve of the election, though some Republicans feared Trump may have confused voters by continuing to make wild claims of voter fraud as he tries to undermine Biden's victory.
The president assailed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, repeatedly this week for rejecting his fraud contentions and raised the prospect on Twitter that some ballots might not be counted even as votes were being cast Tuesday afternoon.
There was no evidence of wrongdoing.
Even before Tuesday, Georgia had shattered its turnout record for a runoff with more than 3million votes by mail or during in-person advance voting in December.
The states previous record was 2.1million in a 2008 Senate runoff.
The early turnout was expected to benefit Democrats, as it helped Biden in November become the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia since 1992.
Republicans were counting on a big turnout on Tuesday to make up for the Democrats' perceived early vote advantage.
Even if only one of the seats is taken by the Republicans, Biden will be the first incoming president in more than a century to enter the Oval Office facing a divided Congress.
In that case, he would have little shot for swift votes on his most ambitious plans to expand government-backed health care coverage, address racial inequality and combat climate change.
A Republican-controlled Senate also would create a rougher path to confirmation for Biden's Cabinet picks and judicial nominees.
Ahead of the vote, cops in Georgia were posted at several poll sites in the state amid threats sent via email to county employees, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Sheriffs from Cherokee County said they were at 40 different polling locations “regarding threats to polling locations on election day."
The sheriff's office did not give more details on the threats, but added that the FBI and Georgia Bureau of Investigations are investigating.
People working in several other counties reportedly received the same email, AJC reported.
A suspicious package was found at Allen Temple Church in Woodstock, Georgia, a spokesperson from the Woodstock Police Department told The Sun.
The poll sites opening on Tuesday came as Trump announced that Republican Senators Loeffler and Perdue would vote to fight Biden's win.
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