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Joe Biden was elected the next US President winning 306 electoral college votes on December 3, compared to Donald Trump’s 232 electoral college votes. The Democratic President-Elect won the 2020 US Presidential election – but the battle for power is far from over.
The US Presidential race ended on November 3 when Americans headed to the polls to have their say, voting for Joe Biden as the next leader.
However, even after Mr Biden’s victory is formally declared, the extent of the Democrats’ power in Washington remains in a state of limbo.
In fact, Mr Biden will have only limited power until the Senate elections in January.
The results of the Senate election will determine how much responsibility the American president can wield – meaning Biden could be powerless until then.
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What is the Senate?
In a similar vein to the British parliament, the US Congress decides and makes the laws which govern the USA.
The US Congress is empowered to impeach the President and remove them from office.
The institution is made up of an upper and lower chamber known as the Senate and the House of Representatives respectively.
Both houses are based at the Capitol Building in Washington DC.
The Senate is made up of 100 senators, two representing each state.
The purpose of the Senate is to approve legislation suggested by the House of Representatives.
Once the Senate approves the legislation, the President must pass any legislation, although Congress can re-pass legislation if there is a two-thirds majority.
The Senate is where key decisions on things like climate change, gun control and healthcare are made.
Whether the Republican or Democratic party gets to control the Senate will be decided by two tight runoff elections in January 2021.
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Republicans have now claimed 50 seats, two more than the 48 seats claimed by the Democratic Party.
Georgia will hold a special election on January 5, 2021, and will include two races:
- Incumbent David Perdue (Republican) versus Jon Ossoff (Democrat)
- Incumbent Kelly Loeffler (Republican) versus Raphael Warnock (Democrat).
According to Georgia’s Secretary of State, Mr Perdue received 88,000 more votes than Mr Ossoff, but this was just shy of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff.
Georgia had a second senate seat up for election this cycle because of Senator Johnny Isakson’s resignation at the end of 2019 due to health concerns.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s appointment of Kelly Loeffler to the seat, making her the incumbent in this special election.
According to the Secretary of State, Mr Warnock led in the November election with a plurality of about one-third of the vote.
However, a second Republican, Doug Collins, was on the ballot in November and won one-fifth of the vote.
With only the leading two candidates in the race in January, Mr Collins’ voters are expected to switch their vote to Ms Loeffler over Mr Warnock.
If Congress is split and the Democrats do not have a lead in the Senate, then it is likely it will prove very difficult to push through legislation and make decisions.
This is because there are a lot of dissenting opinions and it is very polarised.
If the Democrats win both seats in January, there would be a tie in the Senate with each party holding 50 seats.
This would leave Vice President Kamala Harris in the position to make the deciding votes.
However, the Republicans only need to win one seat to keep control of the Senate.
If the Republican party wins 51 or 52 seats, then almost no legislation which is outwardly endorsed and supported by Mr Biden will be passed.
Many political experts claim Mr Biden will essentially become a “lame duck” president if he does not win the Senate.
Poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight currently puts Ossoff’s polling averages at 48.7 percent, compared to Mr Perdue’s support at 47.9 percent.
This is just a 0.8 percentage point difference.
The polls place Mr Warnock with a larger 2.2 percentage point lead with 49.2 percent.
The Republican incumbent Ms Loeffler has a polling average of 47.0 percent.
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