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Why you should pay attention to Georgia today

Georgia voters head to the polls for an election that will determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

A vote walks away after casting their ballot in Georgia’s Senate runoff election on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
A voter walks away after casting a ballot in Georgia’s Senate runoff election on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in Atlanta.
Brynn Anderson, Associated Press

All eyes turn to Georgia as voters head to the polls to determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

What’s happening:

Georgia has two major races right now that could determine the fate of the entire U.S. Senate. The two races include:

The races are happening in January because neither candidate earned 50% of the vote during the November election, which set the stage for these races.

What the results will mean:

The results will determine whether the Senate will remain controlled by the Republican Party or become a majority for Democrats.

  • If Democrats win their races in Georgia, the Senate would be split 50-50 with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris having a tie-breaker vote. Since she’s a Democrat, the Senate would likely be considered a Democrat majority. In this case, Senate Majority leader Mitchell McConnell would no longer hold the position as majority leader, though he plans to stay on as GOP leader, per The Hill.
  • If the Republicans win, the Senate will remain GOP-controlled as it is now.

All in all, the results in Georgia will have a big impact on President-elect Joe Biden’s tenure as president. If he enters with a Democrat-controlled Senate and House of Representatives, then it will make his job easier to pass through his agenda. Having split chambers as President Donald Trump does now might make it more difficult for the next president.

OK, so what do the polls look like right now?

FiveThirtyEight has a rundown of the latest polls that will determine the fate of the senate. Both races are tight, though early polls suggest numbers lean toward the Democrats.

  • Ossoff has a lead over Perdue at 49.1% to 47.4%.
  • Warnock has a lead on Loeffler at 49.4% to 47.2%.

However, President Trump recently campaigned in Georgia for the two Republicans, talking about voter fraud and the election process during his speech, according to CNN.

Meanwhile, Biden held a rally in support of the two Democratic candidates, too.

Times to watch:

  • Polls opened at 7 a.m. ET.
  • Polls will close at 7 p.m. ET.
  • However, voters who are in line as of 7 p.m. can still cast a ballot, NBC News reports.
  • 3 million people have already cast ballots during the early voting period that began on Dec. 14.

When should you expect results?

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Tuesday that the Georgia race will likely be called Wednesday morning.