A handful of tight races in states with quirky election laws make for the possibility that Election Day will come and go without deciding which party controls the Senate.
If that happens, brace for a fierce runoff election and possible recounts that could make for an ugly holiday season in politics and government.
Georgia’s Senate race could have an even messier outcome than Louisiana’s. GOP nominee David Perdue is thought to have a modest lead over Democrat Michelle Nunn in the race to succeed retiring Republican Saxby Chambliss.
But there’s a Libertarian on the ballot, who might win enough votes to keep Perdue and Nunn from reaching 50 percent. That would trigger a runoff Jan. 6, three days after the new Congress’ scheduled start.
It requires a lot of “ifs.” But a scenario in which Republicans entered the new Congress with a 50-49 Senate majority, while awaiting a Georgia outcome that could soon return them to the minority, would further roil an already bitterly partisan government.
If nothing else, “it would make for a bad Christmas for everyone,” said GOP strategist Ron Bonjean.
A recount of a Georgia runoff result, should there be one, would extend confusion even deeper into 2015. A candidate may request a recount if the margin is less than 1 percent of all votes cast.