Joe Biden's policy prospects hinge on Senate finale in Georgia

'We take Georgia and then we change America,' Senate Democratic leader says as both seats go to January run-off

The southern state of Georgia is again taking centre stage in US politics as its two Senate races head to run-offs on January 5 and are likely to determine control under the presidency of Democrat Joe Biden.

After Tuesday’s election, the next Senate to take control in January is 48 Democrats and 48 Republicans.

Each party would need 51 seats for a majority. But if there is a tie, the Democrats will have the advantage as Kamala Harris, the vice president-elect, will have a deciding vote.

The Democrats gained two seats in this election but lost one. The Republicans lead in two other seats where votes are being counted, in North Carolina and Alaska.

In Georgia, none of the candidates managed to get more than 50 per cent of the vote to avoid a run-off.

In one race David Perdue, the Republican incumbent and an ally of President Donald Trump, is facing Jon Ossoff, a 33-year-old investigative journalist.

The other race between Democrat Raphael Warnock, who would be the first black senator for the party from the deep South, is running against Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler.

If the Democrats win the run-offs, something they have not done in the past in the Peach State, they would secure 50 seats and have Ms Harris as a tiebreaker.

“We take Georgia and then we change America,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told a crowd in New York on Saturday.

The Democratic National Committee is expected to pour resources and money into the state to help achieve that outcome.

Mr Biden, the president-elect, was ahead of Mr Trump in the state by a margin of 0.2 per cent of the vote but an automatic recount was called because the difference was less than 0.5 per cent.

No Democrat has won Georgia since 1992.

Georgia’s Democratic politician Stacey Abrams and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms are regarded as major forces behind the Biden campaign.

Ms Abrams runs an operation that registered more than 800,000 voters in her state.

Control of the Senate by the Democrats would mean a takeover for the party in Congress and the White House.

That would help Mr Biden pass key legislation related to healthcare reform and a Covid-19 stimulus package.

But if Republicans keep control of the Senate, something they have done since 2014, then Mr Biden’s agenda could be derailed by their majority.

He would then have to use executive orders to fulfil some of his campaign promises after his inauguration on January 20.