US Senate and House election results: Why the races are so important in 2020

Joe Biden has won the US presidency but another important battle rages on. This race for the United States Senate looks likely to be decided in Georgia, with two Senate race runoffs on January 5, 2021 between Democrat and Republican candidates. One race will be held between Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler (26 per cent) and Democrat Raphael Warnock (32.9 per cent), and the other between Republican Senator David Perdue (49.7 per cent) and Democrat Jon Ossoff (47.9 per cent).  To secure a majority, the Democrats need three seats – one of which they can now take as Mr Biden has won the presidency, as the vice president, Kamala Harris, has the power to cast the tie-breaking vote.  In the early stages, the Republican party appeared to maintain control of the United States Senate as they won key races in Iowa, Alabama and South Carolina. However, this looked increasingly under threat after the Democrats flipped two seats, in Colorado and Arizona. On Wednesday, CNN projected that Republication Senator Dan Sullivan would retain his seat in Alaska, giving the party a 50-48 lead over the Democrats, with 51 needed for a majority. The win comes a day after the Republicans picked up a seat in North Carolina, where Thom Tillis defeated Cal Cunningham. The battle for the United States Senate is also hugely significant for the future of the country.  But why is this the case? Read below to find out.  Follow live reaction to the 2020 US election results here US election results, maps and analysis What is it? The Senate is the upper chamber of Congress, which has the power to ratify treaties, confirm senior government appointees and judges, as well as introducing legislation. The lower chamber of Congress is the House of Representatives, which has 435 members. Every four years when the presidency is up for grabs, one third of the 100-member Senate and the entire House are up for election. This also happens in even-numbered years when there is not a presidential election.  Senators serve six-year terms and must be at least 30 years of age.  Prior to the election, the Senate was under Republican control, with the party enjoying a 53-47 majority, but the impending results could change this. The most up-to-date figures project that the Republicans have won 50 seats and the Democrats (including independents) have won 48 seats so far. Fifty-one is needed for a Senate majority. Why is it important? The race between the Democrats and Republicans is tight this year - and the result could have great implications for whoever wins the presidency.  The party that controls the Senate will have power over the next president’s legislative agenda, cabinet officials and judicial appointments. If President-elect Joe Biden fails to gain the Senate, he could be left unable to pass legislation important to his presidency - on issues such as healthcare, climate change and immigration.   Until now, a gridlock in the Senate has had a significant impact, leading to little progress on key issues including economic recovery during the coronavirus pandemic.  Where will the battle be decided? Georgia will prove crucial to deciding who controls the United States Senate, as no candidates for the state's two seats were able to reach the 50 per cent of vote required to win a place in the Senate.  This means both Senate contests in Georgia will be decided in a special runoff election on January 5, 2021, which will determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the upper chamber of congress.  Perdue and Ossoff’s battle for Georgia’s seat in the Senate is rapidly becoming the most crucial battle in American politics, as the victory will swing the Senate in favour of the Republican or Democrat party.  If the Democrats won both seats in Georgia, this would lead to a tie break scenario. As Mr Biden has won the presidency, the vice president, Kamala Harris, would have the power to cast the tie-breaking vote in the Democrats favour. So far, the Republicans have held onto a number of states considered competitive by Democrats - including North Carolina, Montana, and Iowa. Republican Susan Collins has retained her Senate seat in Maine, with the loss for Democrat Susan Gideon a blow to the Democrats' hopes to regain control of the Senate.  The Democrats managed to flip Arizona, with former astronaut Mark Kelly beating the incumbent Republican Martha McSally 52.5 per cent to 47.4 per cent. Colorado also turned blue as Democrat John Hickenlooper won the senate vote by 53.9 per cent to 44 percent. But the Democrats were not so successful in Alabama, as Republican Tommy Tuberville won the senate seat the Democrats had managed to capture during a special election in 2017.  Who are the key players? The first race in Georgia will take place between incumbent Republican David Perdue, 70, a businessman first appointed to the Senate in 2014, and Democrat Jon Ossoff, 33, a former investigative journalist. Georgia's second Republican Senator, Kelly Loeffler,

US Senate and House election results: Why the races are so important in 2020

Joe Biden has won the US presidency but another important battle rages on.

This race for the United States Senate looks likely to be decided in Georgia, with two Senate race runoffs on January 5, 2021 between Democrat and Republican candidates.

One race will be held between Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler (26 per cent) and Democrat Raphael Warnock (32.9 per cent), and the other between Republican Senator David Perdue (49.7 per cent) and Democrat Jon Ossoff (47.9 per cent). 

To secure a majority, the Democrats need three seats – one of which they can now take as Mr Biden has won the presidency, as the vice president, Kamala Harris, has the power to cast the tie-breaking vote. 

In the early stages, the Republican party appeared to maintain control of the United States Senate as they won key races in Iowa, Alabama and South Carolina.

However, this looked increasingly under threat after the Democrats flipped two seats, in Colorado and Arizona.

On Wednesday, CNN projected that Republication Senator Dan Sullivan would retain his seat in Alaska, giving the party a 50-48 lead over the Democrats, with 51 needed for a majority.

The win comes a day after the Republicans picked up a seat in North Carolina, where Thom Tillis defeated Cal Cunningham.

The battle for the United States Senate is also hugely significant for the future of the country. 

But why is this the case? Read below to find out. 

Follow live reaction to the 2020 US election results here

US election results, maps and analysis

What is it?

The Senate is the upper chamber of Congress, which has the power to ratify treaties, confirm senior government appointees and judges, as well as introducing legislation. The lower chamber of Congress is the House of Representatives, which has 435 members.

Every four years when the presidency is up for grabs, one third of the 100-member Senate and the entire House are up for election. This also happens in even-numbered years when there is not a presidential election. 

Senators serve six-year terms and must be at least 30 years of age. 

Prior to the election, the Senate was under Republican control, with the party enjoying a 53-47 majority, but the impending results could change this.

The most up-to-date figures project that the Republicans have won 50 seats and the Democrats (including independents) have won 48 seats so far. Fifty-one is needed for a Senate majority.

Why is it important?

The race between the Democrats and Republicans is tight this year - and the result could have great implications for whoever wins the presidency. 

The party that controls the Senate will have power over the next president’s legislative agenda, cabinet officials and judicial appointments.

If President-elect Joe Biden fails to gain the Senate, he could be left unable to pass legislation important to his presidency - on issues such as healthcare, climate change and immigration.  

Until now, a gridlock in the Senate has had a significant impact, leading to little progress on key issues including economic recovery during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Where will the battle be decided?

Georgia will prove crucial to deciding who controls the United States Senate, as no candidates for the state's two seats were able to reach the 50 per cent of vote required to win a place in the Senate. 

This means both Senate contests in Georgia will be decided in a special runoff election on January 5, 2021, which will determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the upper chamber of congress. 

Perdue and Ossoff’s battle for Georgia’s seat in the Senate is rapidly becoming the most crucial battle in American politics, as the victory will swing the Senate in favour of the Republican or Democrat party. 

If the Democrats won both seats in Georgia, this would lead to a tie break scenario. As Mr Biden has won the presidency, the vice president, Kamala Harris, would have the power to cast the tie-breaking vote in the Democrats favour.

So far, the Republicans have held onto a number of states considered competitive by Democrats - including North Carolina, Montana, and Iowa.

Republican Susan Collins has retained her Senate seat in Maine, with the loss for Democrat Susan Gideon a blow to the Democrats' hopes to regain control of the Senate. 

The Democrats managed to flip Arizona, with former astronaut Mark Kelly beating the incumbent Republican Martha McSally 52.5 per cent to 47.4 per cent.

Colorado also turned blue as Democrat John Hickenlooper won the senate vote by 53.9 per cent to 44 percent.

But the Democrats were not so successful in Alabama, as Republican Tommy Tuberville won the senate seat the Democrats had managed to capture during a special election in 2017. 

Who are the key players?

The first race in Georgia will take place between incumbent Republican David Perdue, 70, a businessman first appointed to the Senate in 2014, and Democrat Jon Ossoff, 33, a former investigative journalist.

Georgia's second Republican Senator, Kelly Loeffler, will defend her seat against Democrat challenger Raphael Warnock.

They were the top two finishers in a crowded field that also included Republican Rep. Doug Collins. But no candidate was able to get the 50 per cent threshold needed in order to win outright.

Ms Loeffler, 49, a wealthy businesswoman, was appointed last year to replace retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson. Mr Warnock, 51, is trying to become Georgia's first Black US senator. The Reverend is pastor of the Atlanta church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr preached. 

In Maine, long-term Republican Senator Susan Collins has been caught between voters who are unhappy she has not embraced Mr Trump and those who are disappointed she has not done more to stand up to him. Despite these divisions, Collins succeeded in retaining her seat. 

Over in Colorado first-term Republican Senator Cory Gardner suffered from the decline in Mr Trump’s popularity, for whom he has been considered a long-term ally, giving Democrat John Hickenlooper the win.

Arizona’s Republican candidate too is suffering from her connection to Mr Trump. Martha McSally lost to former astronaut Mark Kelly, in part due to Mr Trump’s alienation to Arizona's growing suburban and Latino population. 

In Michigan, Democrat Senator Gary Peters has a 49.8 per cent majority among the electorate, Republican John James' has 48.3 per cent giving Peters the win. 

And in of Alabama Senator Democrat Doug Jones lost to Republican Tommy Tuberville. 

The appointment of Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court judge could have an impact  Credit: AFP

Who looks likely to win?

The Senate race was as close as the presidential election. Democrats may have won the presidency and kept the House majority, but the future of the Senate is far less certain. 

With the Republicans gaining 50 seats to the Democrats 48, the results are still too close to call. 

With more than 98 per cent of results currently announced in Georgia, Mr Biden is narrowly poised to win the state and will be the first Democrat to do so since Clinton in 1992. 

But what would a Biden victory in Georgia mean for the Senate? 

A blue Georgia would make it likely that the state would have to hold two runoffs for its seats in the Senate in January, and Republicans' power in the chamber is under threat. 

The Republicans looked likely to win a majority as they held on to key states such as Iowa, Montana and South Carolina. They had also managed to win back the Senate seat in Alabama from the Democrats.

The appointment of Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court judge could also have an impact yet to be reflected by analysis.