Last updated: 10/20/2020
Each week until Election Day, NACS will update this page with information on the state of play in the battle for the majorities in the House and the Senate and spotlight certain races that may be of increased importance to the convenience industry. Those races may involve industry champions or be key to determining which party will control the House or Senate.
On November 3, Americans will vote in one of the most consequential elections in recent memory. Like every presidential election cycle, most of the attention over the next few weeks will be focused on the match-up between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden. However, the elections that are down the ballot, particularly those that will determine the majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, are vitally important as well. In fact, races even further down the ballot will decide which political party will control state houses and governments across the nation, as well as which party will draw the new Congressional district lines, affecting races in the 2022 mid-term elections.
With just two weeks before election day, people all over the United States have been voting for several weeks. Strong voter enthusiasm to get out and vote early can be seen around the country with long lines to vote in person and large amounts of ballots being collected at official drop-off locations and mailboxes. It will certainly be interesting to see if turnout numbers are higher this year than recent years or if the same people are voting but just doing it earlier due to COVID-19 or other reasons.
While there have been no Senate rating changes at realclearpolitics in the past week, another political prognosticator did make some changes to several key races, which bring two of them into line with where realclearpolitics has them rated. The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election analysis, moved three races toward the Democrats. The report moved the elections for Senator Dan Sullivan’s (R-AK) seat and Senator John Cornyn’s (R-TX) seat from Likely Republican to Lean Republican and the special election for Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler’s (R-GA) seat from Lean Republican to Toss-up. Those moves bring the Alaska and Texas seats in agreement between the two political sites, while realclearpolitics still has the race in Georgia in the Leans GOP category.
Today we’re going to take a look at some of the remaining toss-up races, including the Georgia special election.
Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) had represented Georgia in the Senate since 2005. He announced last year that due to health concerns he would be resigning his seat at the end of 2019. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) appointed financial industry executive Kelly Loeffler to fill the seat ahead of the 2020 election. She was sworn into office on January 6, 2020. Loeffler was CEO of Bakkt, a company which manages digital financial assets. She’s also a co-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream. Loeffler faces the voters this year in a special election to fill the remaining two years of Isakson’s term.
Georgia uses a “jungle election” system for the special election, where all qualified candidates appear on the same ballot for the November election. If no single candidate breaches 50% on November 3, the top two vote getters will move to a runoff election, which won’t take place until January 5, 2021. The 117th Congress is likely to be sworn in either that day or the day before.
The Constitution dictates that the new Congress meet at noon on January 3 unless the preceding Congress sets an alternative date. As January 3, 2021, is a Sunday, it is likely that the new Congress will convene on either Monday, January 4 or Tuesday, January 5.
There are more than 20 candidates officially in the special election, so a runoff is all but guaranteed. Out of that crowd there are four leading candidates for the seat. Loeffler and U.S. Representative Doug Collins (R-GA) on the Republican side and Raphael Warnock and Matt Lieberman on the Democrat side. Collins was elected to Congress to represent Georgia’s 6th district in 2012 and was under consideration for the appointment before Kemp chose Loeffler. Collins has also been a good friend to our industry during his time in the House. Warnock is the pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King Jr. and his father preached. Lieberman is a former lawyer and schoolteacher and is the son of former Connecticut Senator and Democrat Vice Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman. Depending on when you look, either Warnock, Loeffler or Collins have a had plurality of the vote in most polling. The current leader appears to be Warnock.
Due to the special election this year, Georgia is in the unique situation of having both of its U.S. Senate seats on the ballot at the same time. Now Georgia’s senior senator, David Perdue (R-GA), is facing his first reelection effort since joining the Senate in 2014. While the special election uses the jungle primary system, the regularly scheduled elections do not. In this race, Perdue will face Democrat Jon Ossoff. Perdue is facing his first reelection. Another interesting note about the incumbent senator is that his cousin, Sonny Perdue, is currently serving in President Donald Trump’s cabinet as Secretary of Agriculture.
Perdue, a businessman who had most recently been CEO of Dollar General, emerged from a crowded primary back in 2014, ultimately defeating a field which included three U.S. House members seeking to succeed the retiring Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). He won the general election that year fairly handily, earning a roughly seven-point victory. Ossoff, a former congressional staffer and current CEO of a media company, is most well-known for narrowly losing the most expensive (at that time) U.S. House race in history. In 2017, he faced Karen Handel in the jungle election runoff to replace former Congressman Tom Price (R-GA), who had been named to President Trump’s cabinet. He actually came just short of avoiding the runoff and winning the initial election, garnering 48.1% as he was generally considered the consensus Democrat candidate, while Republican votes in the runoff were split among a handful of candidates. Ultimately, he lost to Handel by roughly 9,000 votes.
The final race we’ll look at today is the race in Montana. The Treasure State features a competitive Senate race with a Republican Senator facing reelection for the first time. Steve Daines (R-MT) was elected to the Senate in 2014, at the time he was serving his first term as Montana’s at-large House member. The 2014 election, which he won handily, was certainly an interesting one. Democrat Senator Max Baucus, already having announced he would not seek reelection in 2014, decided to resign the seat when he was nominated by President Barack Obama to be U.S. Ambassador to China. Montana Governor Steve Bullock (D) appointed then Montana Attorney General John Walsh (D), who had already declared his candidacy to succeed Baucus, to the Senate in February of that year. Walsh would go on to win the Democratic primary for the general election, only to drop out in August 2014 after being accused of plagiarizing part of a research paper central to his earning his master’s degree from the Army War College in 2007. The college ultimately revoked his master’s degree. Montana Democrats then turned to State House Representative Amanda Curtis, whom Daines would go on to defeat with about 58% of the vote that year.
Daines’ reelection this year is shaping up to be much more difficult. After abandoning a short-lived long-shot run for the Democratic presidential nomination, term-limited Governor Bullock decided to seek the Senate seat himself. Bullock has proved himself popular in the state, garnering 52% approval ratings. He also successfully sought reelection in 2016, earning 50.3% of the vote on the same ballot where President Trump won the state with 56%. Realclearpolitics continues to rate this race as a toss-up, and many view this race as essential for Republicans to win if they are to keep the Senate majority.
As we mentioned, voting has been ongoing for weeks in many states, but others have just recently begun. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most states have expanded their early voting, absentee voting or vote by mail availability. You have two weeks left to make sure you can make a plan and make sure your voice is heard. We strongly encourage you to do so.