3rd Update, 5:37 PM PT: As results came in, Fox News kept to its regularly scheduled primetime opinion hosts, with Tucker Carlson expressing indignation that Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff were in the lead.
Carlson said that while “you could at least imagine having dinner” with Warnock, he couldn’t understand the appeal of Ossoff, who he called “the greasiest little fraud.” There were concerning signs for Republicans in Georgia. Washington County, with nearly all the votes counted, flipped from the November election to go for Ossoff over Republican David Perdue.
One of Carlson’s guests, Charlie Hurt of The Washington Times, said that the fact that Democrats were leading was
“testament to how badly Republicans in Washington have completely lost sight of their voters.” If Republicans lose both races, and that is still a big if, it is perhaps a preview of who will get the blame from rightward media.
Carlson continued to provide updates on the results, but the network is not pre-empting Tucker Carlson Tonight, Hannity or The Ingraham Angle, the highest rated shows in cable news.
Earlier on his show, Carlson offered up red meat to his audience with “identity” critiques of “runway model” Stacey Abrams and Warnock. The Georgia races were not the sole focus. Carlson also let loose on Senators Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney for their support of diversity policies, and devoted a segment to “Kamala Harris & the Ultimate Virtue Signal.”
MSNBC’s coverage, headlined by some of their opinion hosts including Rachel Maddow and Joy Reid, featured an interview with Stacey Abrams.
“I think every time that Donald Trump disparages the millions of Georgia voters who decided that they wanted to participate, it renews their commitment to being a part of the body politic,” Abrams said. “They want to be seen, they want to be heard, and they will be.”
2nd UPDATE, 4 PM PT: Polls have now closed in Georgia, where the two Senate runoff races will determine who controls the upper chamber and America’s political direction the next few years.
There are many expectations of ever so close races, largely based on Joe Biden’s narrow win in November. But, with socially distanced in-person voting during the coronavirus and record breaking early voting, it also may be difficult to discern who is actually ahead given the sheer number of mail in ballots, which are thought to favor Democrats.
On MSNBC, Steve Kornacki said that they expect an early batch of mail-in ballots to come in from Fulton County, a Democratic stronghold. Other counties, though, plan to count the mail-in vote last.
“Honestly, there is not a ton of rhyme or reason for this,” he said. Even before today, Georgia broke runoff voting records. However, it looks like the overall number will be down from the November general election.
Over on Fox News, Bill Hemmer noted GOP estimates that they would need 62% same-day turnout, or about 1 million voters, to counter Democrats’ advantage in early and mail-in voting. More than 3 million voted early.
Both Biden and Donald Trump visited the state yesterday with the former Celebrity Apprentice host seemingly more interested in listing off his greatest hits of grievances than the Republican incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. A tone and turn that worry many in the GOP as Trump seems to be at war with Gov. Brian Kemp and other state officials who have refused to award Georgia to him, despite his threats and conspiracy theories
Today, Wolf Blitzer went through early figures showing a lead for Democrat challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, but cautioned that the scant numbers were “very, very early.”
Burke County supplied the first votes of the night with Ossoff taking a wide 538 – 147 lead over incumbent Perdue. The results from the small county outside Augusta are most likely mail-in, pundits estimated.
UPDATE, 2:26 PM PT: As Georgians went to the polls on Tuesday, Joe Biden did some interviews in the state, telling one station that if Democrats win both Senate races and control of the chamber “we will be able to get immediately out checks for $2,000 to guys who are really hurting.”
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“These other guys don’t seem to understand,” Biden told Kenny Burns on WVEE-FM, an urban music station in Atlanta. “This Covid pandemic and the job loss has been consequential. Thousands of people are lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, wondering is they are going to be thrown out of their apartments and if they have enough food on the table.”
The House last week passed an expansion of direct Covid-19 payments to $2,000, but it stalled in the Senate when Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked efforts to bring the resolution to the floor.
Biden once again blasted the Trump administration for its vaccine distribution, saying that the federal government has done “virtually no planning.”
Biden said that if Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff win, “the vice president of the United States will essentially become the majority leader of the United States Senate,” as Kamala Harris would get the tie-breaking vote.
Meanwhile, a federal judge denied the Trump team’s latest effort to decertify the results in Georgia, which Biden won. Trump had filed suit against the governor of the state, Brian Kemp, and its secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger. The lawsuit was the latest of dozens of defeats in court for Trump, who has nevertheless vowed to press on with unfounded claims that the election was stolen from him.
He plans to address a protest rally on Wednesday morning at the Ellipse near the White House, just hours before a joint session of Congress meets to officially count the Electoral College vote and certify the race for Biden and Harris. Dozens of Republicans say that they plan to vote against the Biden-Harris electors, siding with Trump, but that likely will not change the outcome.
“To interfere with the result of an election that has already concluded and has been audited and certified on multiple occasions would be unprecedented and harm the public in countless ways,” the judge, Mark Cohen, wrote in his ruling.
PREVIOUSLY, 12:13 PM: “Y’all get out and vote, get out and vote, get out and vote,” said Tyler Perry today as Georgia went to the polls to decide exactly who the Peach State’s two Senators will be.
The big money dual runoffs could see challengers Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock unseat GOP incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler and hand control of the upper chamber to the Democrats for the first time in a decade. With incoming Vice President Kamala Harris as the deciding vote in a 50-50 deadlocked Senate, that push Mitch McConnell and crew out of power and make Joe Biden’s agenda much closer to a legislative reality.
Building on the voter turnout that saw Biden turn Red state Georgia blue for the first time since 1992, record breaking advanced voting in the runoffs has already topped 3 million. However, as the Madea creator discovered, not everyone received the absentee ballot they requested. Taking advice from Stacey Abrams, Perry jumped on a plane and flew back home to Georgia on Monday to cast his vote in person:
This morning, the producer and studio chief marked his ballot in what seemed to be a fairly quick process:
A significant portion of the Georgia film/TV industry unto himself, Perry isn’t the only Hollywood heavyweight banking on the Democrats pulling off a double victory.
“This is the ballgame, almost as much Biden and Kamala taking the White House from Trump,” one prominent producer with deep political connections and pockets told Deadline Tuesday. “I’m anxious, but I think, I hope, turnout is in our favor.”
More than one power player told us today that they are saying prayers to see Ossoff and Warnock over the finish line in what is expected to be a long night in the close races. One day before an almost unprecedented contest of the electoral college certification by Congress, some took their hopes and faith to social media:
The power of YOUR vote and your voice is so important, make it heard today 🙌🏾✊🏾 @ReverendWarnock and @Ossoff are standing up for those who’s paths to success aren’t made easy. For those who can’t always stand up for themselves. Let’s flip this Senate! pic.twitter.com/WwdvhEy9yw
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) January 5, 2021
“My sense is there’s a lot of fatalistic enthusiasm, …energy and hope for Warnock and Ossoff, but a general consensus that they’ll be edged by big Republican turnout today,” says Damon Lindelof. “Personally, I predict both Dems win, but it will be sooooo close we can expect lots of drama before that’s ‘official,’” the Watchmen bossman and long time Dems contributor added.
Like they did in the general election, Hollywood has poured considerable sums into the Georgia runoffs. Through this cycle, Ossoff has raised about $1.6 million from showbiz sources, and Warnock has collected about $1.3 million, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics. Total spending on local TV and radio was a staggering $504.8 million, according to research firm Medium Buying.
Broadcast networks are planning to break into programming with updates on the races, and ABC News is planning a primetime special at 10:30 p.m. ET on the results. On the cable news networks, the runoffs will play like a mini-November, with some of the same teams of anchors, analysts and voting gurus.
CNN, Fox News and MSNBC have been reporting throughout the day from the Peachtree state, with coverage kicking off in earnest in the mid afternoon. CNN’s coverage will feature Dana Bash, Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, John King and Abby Phillip, and Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon picking up coverage at midnight. Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum will headline Election Day live coverage in Atlanta, with Bill Hemmer breaking down the numbers and Shannon Bream reporting from Washington, D.C., with Chris Wallace, Brit Hume, Dana Perino and Juan Williams providing analysis. Rachel Maddow and Brian Williams will anchor coverage on MSNBC, with Nicolle Wallace and Joy Reid providing analysis and Steve Kornacki back at the Big Board. Ali Velshi will pick up overnight.
We’ll be watching the race today too and providing updates throughout. Stay tuned.
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