KEY POINTS

  • Democrats need a win-win in Georgia
  • Trump could still win, but it’s an extraordinary long shot
  • Biden holds out olive branch to bridge the bipartisan divide

With the GOP clinging to a slim majority in the Senate, President-elect Joe Biden sees the race for two swing seats in Georgia as critical to the early progress of his administration, he told supporters in a private phone call obtained by CNN.

The runoff races for the Senate in Georgia are set for Jan. 5 after none of the candidates cleared the 50% threshold in the voting to declare victory on Election Day. Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue square off against Democratic challengers Jos Ossof and Raphael Warnock in the January contests.

A Democrats sweep would give the party de facto control of the Senate, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holding the deciding vote in the event of a 50-50 tie in the chamber.

If Republicans win even one of the seats, they would retain control of the Senate and likely put a roadblock in front of Biden’s campaign pledges, from limiting drilling for oil and gas on federal lands to passing a sizeable stimulus package.

"We're going to run into some real brick walls initially in the Senate, unless we're able to turn around Georgia and pick up those two seats, but even then it's going to be hard," he said in a private call with supporters, according to a CNN report from Thursday.

On the same call, the president-elect sought to bridge the partisan divide that’s held up legislation in the past. He also affirmed his desire to connect with Americans who didn't support him and other Democrats in the latest election.

"I mean it when I say we got to reach out, reach out to those people who didn't vote for us, try to determine what their fears or concerns are," Biden said. "I think at least half those folks who voted against us are just looking for answers. They're looking for answers. They're not bad folks."

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump continues to litigate the vote counts in seven states in a desperate attempt for a second term in office, claiming without evidence that the election was rigged against him. Apart from some of the more moderate Republicans, such as Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, few Republican have acknowledged Biden’s victory.

As of Wednesday, Biden had a 5.8 million lead over Trump in the popular vote. In the Electoral College that decides the presidency, Biden has cleared the 270 votes needed to win with a projected 306.

US President-elect Joe Biden speaking in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware on November 10, 2020 US President-elect Joe Biden speaking in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware on November 10, 2020 Photo: AFP / Angela Weiss