There is a good chance that control of the Senate will hinge on the high-profile contest in Georgia that may not be settled until after the new Congress is sworn in next year.
Harry Enten, of the FiveThirtyEight blog, writes Thursday that there is a 56.9 percent chance that Republicans will flip control of the Senate by picking up the six net seats they need.
But, he says, there is a high probability that control of the chamber will not be settled until after Election Day because Louisiana and Georgia would hold runoff races if no candidate is able to capture 50 percent of the vote in the Nov. 4 election.
Louisiana’s race would then be decided in a Dec. 6 runoff, and Georgia’s contest would be decided in a Jan. 6 runoff.
Mr. Enten says the chance of a runoff in Georgia is getting more and more likely — pointing to a SurveyUSA poll released Wednesday that shows that businessman David Perdue, a Republican, has a 46 percent to 45 percent lead over Michelle Nunn, a Democrat and daughter for former George Sen. Sam Nunn.
And he projects Mr. Perdue to lead the November election, but says he is “hesitant” to say that the Republican will capture the 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid the runoff.
“The reason is that the Libertarian candidate, Amanda Swafford, has averaged 5 percent in the past five polls to include her as a choice,” he says. “The SurveyUSA poll put her at 4 percent. It’s impossible for Perdue to beat Nunn by 3 percentage points in November and get over 50 percent if Swafford earns 4 percent of the vote.”
But he also notes that third-party candidates traditionally lose steam, and projects Ms. Swafford grabbing 2.5 percent of the vote and Mr. Perdue “barely topping 50 percent” in the November election.
“That doesn’t leave a lot of room for Perdue; he could easily fall below 50 percent in later projections and force a January runoff, in which he would be favored, yet not guaranteed, to win,” he says.