Outstanding Races: A Look-In

(Jon Ossoff – “Selma”)

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 22, 2020 — The Georgia Senate runoff campaigns continue to see brisk pre-election voting participation and huge amounts of money being spent, while one of the candidates appears to be fundamentally changing his message strategy. In the two contested House races, the NY-22 result remains undecided, while questions are being raised around the IA-2 situation with regard to seating the state certified winner on Jan. 3.

The Georgia races, heading into Christmas week, feature political surveys finding both campaigns, those of Sen. David Perdue (R) against Jon Ossoff (D) and Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) paired with Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) in their special election battle, falling within the polling margin of error.

The Target Smart statistical organization reveals that Democrats are slightly leading Republicans in pre-election ballots returned (47.0 – 46.7 percent, respectively within the universe of returned ballots), a difference between the two parties of just 4,025 ballots. Over 1.329 million votes have been received through the end of last week, which is only 241,088 under the number of early and mail votes recorded in the 2020 regular election.

During the regular election, the Democrats led the early and mail voting participation with 748,741 ballots (47.7 percent of the total return) compared to the GOP’s total of 719,515 (45.8 percent). The unaffiliated sector returned 102,635 ballots in the regular election. So far in the runoff cycle, 82,756 unaffiliated individuals have either voted early or mailed their ballots.

During the week, Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff changed his media strategy. Prior to this period, the Ossoff campaign had been concentrating on COVID as their key issue driver, but now appear to be concerned about African American voter turnout. With the pre-election numbers being slightly down for Democrats as described above, the change in Ossoff strategy suggests that the campaign strategists do not feel the black vote numbers are where they need to be to clinch a victory on Jan. 5.

During the past few days, the Ossoff campaign has released two ads, one entitled “Selma” and the other, “The Talk.” They are both targeted to the African American community in an effort to spur turnout. (See top and below.)

(Jon Ossoff – “The Talk”)

The NY-22 final result has been tied up since Election Day, with the campaigns going back and forth in challenging various ballots. There are now over 2,400 challenged ballots. After counting and re-counting all but two of the counties, former Rep. Claudia Tenney’s (R) margin of 12 votes over freshman Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) has stood.

The election results languish in the Supreme Court of Oneida County with Oswego County Justice Scott DelConte presiding. In New York, the local courts are referred to as “Supreme”, but they are equivalent to what most states label as district or superior courts.

Earlier in December, Justice DelConte returned the ballots to seven of the district’s eight counties for review and re-counting since he said their tabulation and challenge recording procedures did not adhere to New York law. At a private meeting with the attorneys from both sides on Friday, the presiding judge acknowledged that all but Oneida and Chenango Counties, the largest and fifth largest counties in the district, have now completed their process. Though there were some vote adjustments, Tenney’s lead still remains at 12 votes.

Justice DelConte indicated that he will begin reviewing the 2,400-plus challenged votes today. He addressed the legal representatives with his hope of making a final ruling before the House is sworn in on Jan. 3.

Rep-Elect Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) is the state certified winner in Iowa’s 2nd District, but her victory margin is only six votes. Instead of originally going through the state judicial process with her complaint to overturn the election – the deadline for filing a challenge under Iowa election law has now past – Democratic nominee Rita Hart has pledged to bring her case to the House of Representatives in hopes that they will count a certain number of ballots that the Iowa election authorities have disqualified.

Hart must submit her complaint to the House Administration Committee by Dec. 30. It remains to be seen if the committee will take any action to bar Miller-Meeks from being seated on Jan. 3.

The current post-election House party division count stands at 222 Democrats and 212 Republicans, including Miller-Meeks. The NY-22 seat is now the body’s 435th district. If Republicans end with both contested seats in their column, the margin will be 222-213. If Rep. Brindisi wins the 22nd CD and the House flips the Iowa seat to the Democrats, then the margin would become 224-211.

Already, three Democratic members have been nominated for positions in the Biden Administration meaning, that for a time, vacancies will occur in all three districts until special election cycles are completed, thus reducing the Democratic advantage even further.

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