Democrats take the lead in Georgia senate races as Michelle Obama joins campaign

<p>US Senate candidates Raphael Warnock (L) and Jon Ossoff take questions from the press during an outdoor drive-in rally on December 5.</p> (Getty Images)

US Senate candidates Raphael Warnock (L) and Jon Ossoff take questions from the press during an outdoor drive-in rally on December 5.

(Getty Images)

Democratic candidates are maintaining their lead in Georgia’s crucial Senate run-off races, with a new poll showing Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff leading Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue ahead of the 5 January polls.

The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, showed Mr Warnock ahead of GOP Senator Loeffler by seven percentage points, while Mr Ossoff took a lead of five percentage points over his Republican opponent. Mr Ossoff widened his lead by two points when compared with the same poll taken three weeks earlier, while Mr Warnock maintained his lead.

The Democrats’ lead has been attributed partly to Republican infighting over President Donald Trump’s failure to accept the 3 November election result and his unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. In fact, the survey, which polled 800 people between 16 to 20 December, found that of those who are not voting in the Senate runoff, a disproportionate number are conservative.

More than half the people (55 per cent) who identified themselves as “very conservative” in the survey of said they are not voting in the Georgia runoff because “the voting process is rigged”. Another seven per cent of voters who identified themselves as “very conservative” told the pollsters that they are “intentionally boycotting” the January elections. However, none of those who identify as “liberal” or “very liberal” said they would be boycotting the upcoming runoff.

The Democrats’ continued lead in the polls ahead of the runoff election comes as former first lady Michelle Obama threw her support behind Mr Warnock and Mr Ossoff.

Ms Obama’s nonpartisan organisation When We All Vote on Monday announced a drive-in concert in the run-up to the election. The concert will take place on 3 January, two days ahead of the runoff. Ms Obama will also appear in a video segment, in order to mobilise voters ahead of the polls.

The runoff election in Georgia was called as none of the candidates won the state-mandated 50 per cent share of the vote to be declared victorious. According to election law in the state, which has a majority-vote requirement, if no candidate is able to secure of 50 per cent of the vote, then the top two candidate will enter in a runoff election.

In the general election of 3 November, Senator Perdue fell just under 50 per cent of the vote needed for a majority against Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff with 49.7 per cent to 47.9 per cent with 99 per cent of the vote counted, and a runoff was declared by the Associated Press.

Likewise, Senator Loeffler came in second behind Democrat Warnock with 25.9 per cent to 32.9 per cent. The runoff was called when it became evident neither candidate would reach the 50 per cent majority-vote requirement.

Currently Republicans hold 50 seats in the Senate and Democrats hold 46, while the two independents who caucus with them bring them up to 48. To secure a majority, Democrats must win the two remaining seats, which would allow Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to cast the tie-breaking vote in the chamber.

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