In duelling rallies, President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden have urged voters in Georgia to turn out for elections on Tuesday that will decide which party controls the Senate.
Mr Trump, a Republican, and Mr Biden, a Democrat, said the votes for two Senate seats would shape the US for years.
More than three million Georgians have already cast ballots – nearly 40% of the state’s registered voters.
If the Democrats win, they will control all of Congress and the White House.
The Republican Senate incumbents in Georgia – Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue – are trying to hold off the Democratic challengers, Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock.
The runoff is needed under Georgia’s state election rules because none of the Senate candidates received more than 50% of the vote in November’s US election.
What’s at stake in Georgia?
The vote will decide the balance of power in the US Senate.
Republicans are currently in control, holding 52 of the 100 seats. If both Democrats win on Tuesday, the Senate will be evenly split, allowing incoming Democratic vice-president Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote.
This would be crucial for pushing through Mr Biden’s progressive agenda, including key issues such as health care and environmental regulations – issues with strong Republican opposition.
The Senate also has the power to approve or reject Mr Biden’s nominees for cabinet and judicial posts.
If Mr Ossoff and Mr Warnock both win, it will bring the White House, Senate and the House of Representatives under Democratic control for the first time since President Barack Obama’s election in 2008.
What did Biden and Trump say?
At a drive-in rally in Atlanta on Monday, Mr Biden told voters: “Georgia, the whole nation is looking to you. The power is literally in your hands.”
Flanked by Mr Ossoff and Mr Warnock, he said: “Unlike any time in my career, one state – one state – can chart the course, not just for the four years but for the next generation.”
On Monday evening at a rally in Dalton, President Trump told voters that the Georgia runoff was the “last line of defence” against the Democrats.
In what may have been the last rally of his presidency, he said: “If the liberal Democrats take the Senate and the White House – and they’re not taking this White House – we’re going to fight like hell, I’ll tell you right now.”
The president repeated unproven allegations that he was only declared the loser in Georgia after November’s White House election because of fraud.
Republican officials are worried this could depress turnout among the party faithful in Tuesday’s vote. Mr Trump played this down, telling voters to “swarm it tomorrow”.
A Democrat has not won a Senate race in Georgia in 20 years, but the party will be buoyed by Mr Biden’s presidential election win over Mr Trump there. The margin of victory was about 12,000 votes among five million cast.
Mr Biden won 306 votes to Mr Trump’s 232 in the US electoral college, which confirms the US president. Mr Biden won at least seven million more votes than the president.
Joe Biden’s first big test
It’s just over two weeks until Joe Biden’s inauguration, but the first real test of his presidency will come on Tuesday, when Georgia’s two run-off Senate elections will decide which party controls the US Senate as he takes office.
If Democrats pick up the two seats and forge a 50-50 tie in the upper chamber, it’s far from certain that Biden will be able to enact the kind of sweeping legislation on the environment, healthcare and the economy that he proposed during his successful presidential campaign. The narrowness of the margin will ensure that any laws will have to be supported by centrists like Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Arizona’s two senators.
It will, however, give the new president a fighting chance at legislative accomplishments – and make it significantly easier for him to appoint the administration officials and federal judges of his choice.
If the Republicans hold on, then Democratic hopes will rest on the whims of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a handful of Republican moderates.
Meet the candidates
- Jon Ossoff, launched his campaign with an endorsement from Democratic superstar and civil rights champion John Lewis, who died this summer. Mr Ossoff spent five years working for Congressman Hank Johnson, an Atlanta Democrat
- David Perdue has served as a Georgia senator since 2015. The former Reebok CEO was an early supporter of Donald Trump, and has remained an ally. He is now facing scrutiny over multimillion dollar stock trades in companies whose business falls under his purview on Senate committees
- Reverend Raphael Warnock is a pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr once preached. He helped start the New Georgia Project, a voting rights organisation. The group is now under investigation for allegedly sending ballot applications to non-residents
- Kelly Loeffler was named to the US Senate in December 2019 after the sitting senator resigned. Ms Loeffler is co-owner of the women’s NBA team the Atlanta Dream. The league’s players have called for her to sell her stake over her vocal opposition to Black Lives Matter
Is Trump still challenging the White House election?
Mr Trump – who is due to leave office on 20 January – said at his Georgia rally: “They’re not taking this White House. We’re going to fight like hell.”
He hinted that he wanted Vice-President Mike Pence, in his role as president of the Senate, to reject Mr Biden’s win when Congress meets on Wednesday to certify the election results.
“I hope that Mike Pence comes through for us,” Mr Trump said. “Of course, if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much.”
Some Republicans have said they will raise objections to the presidential election result in the House and Senate, requiring a debate and vote. But with other Republicans saying they will not contest Mr Biden’s victory, the votes questioning it would not succeed.
Over the weekend it was revealed Mr Trump also held a controversial phone call with Georgia’s top election official, secretary of state Brad Raffensperger.
In a recording of the call, first published by the Washington Post newspaper on Sunday, Mr Trump pressured Mr Raffensperger to “find” votes that would reverse his defeat in the state.
At his rally, Mr Biden did not make direct reference to the call, but alluded to Mr Trump’s persistent challenges to the election results, saying that “politicians cannot assert, take or seize power”.