ATLANTA, Ga. – As votes were still being counted Thursday in Georgia, Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s lead over Democratic challenger Jon Osoff dropped below the 50% threshold required to win the office without a runoff.
Perdue continues to lead in unofficial returns but the margin of votes for Osoff grew as absentee ballots that could not be counted before Election Day were counted in the last 48 hours.
The final votes. The Associated Press has not yet called the race.
“If overtime is required when all of the votes have been counted, we’re ready and we will win,” Perdue campaign manager Ben Fry said in a statement.
Ossoff’s campaign manager, Ellen Foster, said in a statement that the campaign is “confident that Jon Ossoff’s historic performance in Georgia has forced Senator David Perdue” into a runoff.
If no candidate receives 50% of the vote, top two candidates advance to Jan. 5 runoff.
(2,656 / 2,656)
NOTE: Percentages round to the nearest whole number, but the county early Friday morning had Perdue with 49.85% and Osoff at 47.84%.
Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Thursday afternoon that there were thousands of ballots left to be counted. There are also provisional ballots and ballots that need to be “cured” before being scanned, and ballots cast by military voters and citizens living overseas can be received through 5 p.m. Friday and still be tallied.
Many of the outstanding ballots left to be tallied were in Democratic strongholds in metro Atlanta and Chatham County, which contains Savannah.
Georgia’s other U.S. Senate race is headed to a Jan. 5 runoff between GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock.
The dual races could help determine control of the chamber.
Democrats haven’t won a Senate race in Georgia in two decades, but Republican dominance in statewide races has been slipping in recent elections.