As of late Thursday, Georgia — with its 16 Electoral College votes — remained in a position to tilt the balance between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic former vice president Joe Biden.
Trump’s lead in Georgia shrank throughout the day, by 10:30 p.m. down to 1,775 votes out of more than 4.95 million cast, with fewer than 18,000 ballots yet to be counted.
At the pace that votes counts were being reported — particularly from metro Atlanta — it was possible that by Friday morning, Biden would lead Trump. The state has not backed the Democratic presidential nominee since 1992.
Meanwhile, Georgians can look forward to nine more weeks of campaigning — and nine more weeks of television and radio ads — as at least one and likely both of the state’s U.S. Senate seats will be decided in Jan. 5 runoffs.
One will pit Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock. In the all-comers primary to fill the two years remaining in the term of retired Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, Warnock led the 21-candidate pack with 32.8 percent, while Loeffler, appointed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to fill the seat, trailed with 26 percent. Jewish Democrat Matt Lieberman finished fifth, with 2.7 percent of the vote.
Georgia’s other Senate race, between incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff, slipped into runoff territory Thursday evening as Perdue dropped below a majority of the vote. As of 10 p.m., Perdue held 49.8 percent, Ossoff 47.8 percent, and Libertarian Shane Hazel 2.3 percent.
“If overtime is required when all of the votes have been counted, we’re ready, and we will win. … There’s only one candidate in this race who has ever lost a runoff, and it isn’t David Perdue,” said Perdue’s campaign, referring to Ossoff’s 2017 special election runoff loss to Republican Karen Handel in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.
The Ossoff campaign said, “When a runoff is called and held in January, Georgians are going to send Jon to the Senate to defend their health care and put the interests of working families and small businesses ahead of corporate lobbyists.”
In U.S. House races, Jewish Democrat Dana Barrett received 39.5 percent of the vote in a losing bid to 11th District Republican incumbent Rep. Barry Loudermilk, who won with 60.4 percent.
Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux appeared to have succeeded in her second attempt in the 7th District, leading Republican Rich McCormick by 51.2 percent to 48.8 percent, though McCormick had yet to concede.
In the 6th District, incumbent Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath won re-election with a 54.5 percent to 46.5 percent victory over former Republican Rep. Karen Handel, whom McBath ousted in 2018.
Incumbent Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson received 80 percent of the vote in winning an eighth term from the 4th District, while state Democratic party chair and Democratic state Sen. Nikema Williams won more than 85 percent and will succeed the late Democratic Rep. John Lewis in the 5th District.
In the state legislature, Democratic incumbent Rep. Mike Wilensky won re-election in House District 79 and will be the only Jew in the General Assembly. Wilensky defeated Republican Andrea Johnson 59.7 percent to 40.3 percent.
In a rematch from 2018 in House District 51, Jewish Republican Alex Kaufman lost to incumbent Democrat Josh McLaurin, who received 55 percent to Kaufman’s 44.9 percent.
Chuck Berk, who heads the Atlanta chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition, was irritated by the loss of Republican incumbent Deborah Silcox in House District 52. Democrat Shea Roberts received 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent for Silcox. “It shows that voters in Sandy Springs were unaware of her terrific record. She is a member of the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust and has been instrumental in getting solid support from the state. She authored a bill and was able to get unanimous support from the Georgia House for a Georgia Holocaust memorial. She was a driving force to get Georgia’s hate crimes bill passed in the last session. And she had the guts to go against most in her party to vote against the heartbeat bill. The Jewish community should have supported her,” Berk told the AJT.
In the presidential election, Biden won the majority of the Jewish vote nationally, though Trump may have improved on the estimated 24 percent received in his 2016 defeat of Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Based on a sampling of 3,315 Jewish voters, the Associated Press VoteCast said Biden won 68 percent and Trump 30 percent. A poll commissioned by the Republican Jewish Coalition, with a sample of 600, pegged the Jewish vote at 60.6 percent for Biden and 30.5 percent for Trump. A showing of 30 percent would be the highest of a Republican nominee since George H.W. Bush in 1988. A poll commissioned by J Street, a progressive Jewish group, gave Biden 77 percent and Trump 21 percent from a sample size of 800.
“It appears that a greater number of Jews in this election recognized all the strong support President Donald Trump has provided to Israel and the Jewish community,” Berk said.
Michael Rosenzweig, a member of the Jewish Democratic Council of America board, said, “It appears that Biden will win, which is a great thing for the country and for the Jewish community. Polling shows that 77 percent of Jewish voters voted for Biden, the largest percentage since 1992, and it’s clear the Jewish vote was critical to Biden’s victory. While the election was not the clear repudiation of Trump we hoped it would be, the important thing is that he lost and will be gone.”
Georgia’s 159 counties have until Nov. 13 to certify their election results and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has until Nov. 20 to affix the state’s stamp of approval.