Georgia Senate Races Tighten Amid Washington Dysfunction
Author: Greg Valliere
December 30, 2020
FINANCIAL MARKETS HAD ASSUMED for weeks that Republicans would win at least one of the two Georgia races on Jan. 5, giving the GOP control of the Senate for the next two years. That assumption is now in doubt.
THE PERIOD BETWEEN CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR’S is usually quiet in this town, but a furious Donald Trump — determined to humiliate rivals in his own party — has changed that narrative. He wants $2,000 checks for individuals earning less than $75,000; many Republicans, citing the deficit, are opposed.
AMID THE INTRIGUE ON CAPITOL HILL YESTERDAY, our take is that Mitch McConnell and a majority of Republicans will find a way to block the $2,000 checks. McConnell inserted “poison pills” that make the bill unacceptable to Democrats — eliminating liability protection for tech companies, while (ironically) giving protection to firms facing liability from covid lawsuits.
CONGRESS MAY STAY IN SESSION through New Year’s Eve, and may return on New Year’s Day. Passage of a defense spending bill is crucial, and there may be more votes on covid relief. McConnell seems to hold the high cards.
OUR BOTTOM LINE is that another stimulus bill is coming — either at the very end of this session of Congress, or more likely in the new Congress, as Joe Biden seeks another bill after his Jan. 20 inauguration. The size of such a bill depends almost entirely on the Georgia Senate elections.
THE ASSUMPTION THAT REPUBLICANS would win at least one of the two Georgia seats is now in doubt, in the wake of fresh polls that show the Democrats with very slight leads, (but well within the margin of error). Polls yesterday by the conservative-leaning Trafalgar Group raised eyebrows; they have the two Democrats ahead slightly.
COULD IT BE THAT GEORGIA VOTERS, especially moderates, have had enough of Trump’s conspiracy theories, and are sick of the gamesmanship over $2,000 checks? The two Republican candidates opposed such stimulus until Trump urged it; now they’re on board despite their previous calls for restraint.
IT’S ALL ABOUT TRUMP: At the core of this head-spinning debate is Trump’s determination to maintain control of the Republican Party, keeping open his option to run in 2024. There’s no way he could possibly win when the Senate approves the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6 — as Mike Pence reads the final vote tally. Even Pence may incur Trump’s wrath.
TRUMP WILL APPEAR IN GEORGIA on Jan. 4 to rally the faithful — and he will get one more platform to air his many grievances. The key question: will Trump help or hurt the Republicans on Jan. 4? One suspects that he doesn’t really care; Mitch McConnell is now the enemy.
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