this is "nightline." >> tonight, breaking news. with the vote count still under way, inside the cliff hanger georgia election. raphael warnock projected to win for the democrats. but the state of play for who will control the senate still up in the air. our political powerhouse team breaks it all down. plus the road to runoff. >> this is an amazing day. taking that step, the step forward to come out and vote. >> tracing the path to convince voters and shift the balance of power in washington. when heartburn takes you by surprise. fight back fast, with new tums naturals. free from artificial flavors and dyes.
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thanks for joining us. breaking news as we come on the air tonight. all eyes were on georgia, a nail biter runoff race where two crucial senate seats were up for grabs. abc news is now projecting democrat reverend raphael warnock will win one of the seats. but democrats will need to hold both to control congress. warnock is projected to defeat republican incumbent kelly loeffler. warnock, a senior pastor of the
famed ebenezer baptist church expected to become the first african-american senator elected from georgia. warnock's projected victory coming as the second race between dam jon ossoff and republican david perdue is too close to project. with less than 1% of remaining ballots separating the two other candidates, for the latest i'm joined by abc news political director rick kline and deputy director mary alice parks. thank you for joining us. rick, reverend warnock projected to defeat kelly loeffler. looking at the remaining vote there's a lot of optimism among democrats. is tonight confirmation that georgia has turned purple? and how did democrats defeat these expectations? >> yeah, this is an earthquake. and when you take this on top of the biden victory two missouris a go, you recognize this is a changing state. i think you have to look back to democrats and also opportunity. because you'd had the changing population. a vast number of new people
moving into the state, a younger, more diverse electorate that is changing the face of georgia, a long-term plan hatched by stacey abrams and others over the past decade to try to get that into registration numbers. the way the democrats stitched together coalitions and got voters who didn't vote two months ago out to the polls, you recognize this is the culmination of a longstanding strategy that could have very long-lasting implications. >> mary alice, talk about those strategies, the long-term ones, also some of the other big surprises tonight, not just the outcome but the speed at which we learn the outcome. >> yeah, democrats and especially republican state officials did not want a repeat from november. they watched the president and a lot of republicans in washington cast a lot of doubt on november's results because it took so long to get those results. so state officials worked very closely with county officials to make sure they would start processing early bat lots ahead
of time. they were opening up absentee ballots, checking signatures, getting pretty to count tabulation when polls closed. we had a lot more data and a lot more votes reported from the counties early on. to rick's point about strategy, i think that democrats are really celebrating the organizing power of black women. we are looking at people like stacey abrams, but also keisha lance bottoms, lucy mcbath. we are seeing over and over black women in the state of georgia that got their voters out to vote and it looks like it really paid off for them. >> rick, jon karl is reporting anger in the republican camp, finger pointing going on. how much is the specter of donald trump looming over the results tonight? >> republicans can blame trump, but frankly the two republican candidates embraced trump. kelly loeffler, david perdue did everything they could to tie themselves to trump. he was a motivating factor. republican turnout was okay in most cases, it just happened to be swamped by democratic
turnout. so double-edged sword of donald trump that i think becomes evident. but there's no question he's going to take a lot of the blame, particularly because of the way he handled himself. if he had behaved like most presidents where you lose an election, you try to do what you can for the party to put the pieces back together, i think democrats would have had a much harder time motivating over republicans. as it was, he spent two months complaining about the last election, it meant republicans couldn't focus on the next one, and it cost them valuable time, organizing opportunities, and it was not a coherent message to say, vote because the last one was rigged. >> curious what you think of the trump legacy. and also if chuck schumer takes mitch mcconnell's job, how does that ripple across the corridors of power throughout washington? >> a big part of trump's legacy is going to be felt in those suburbs. we don't know yet if democrats have locked in such a big lead in the suburbs or as some say
are they just renting a lead in the suburbs right now because suburban voters, especially white working-class professionals, highly educated professionals, who maybe in other moments might be inclined to vote republican, are rejecting the president. i think we still have to see how that plays out in the next few races and years to come. what it could mean for who controls the power in the senate, if democrats are able to secure this second seat as well in the coming days, that just completely changes the trajectory of a joe biden presidency. it makes a huge difference that he has control in the senate too. >> mary alice, thank you, rick, pulling another all-nighter, appreciate your insights as always. >> you bet, of course. earlier tonight, i spoke with our spe team and asked about the role president trump would end up playing in this election. governor christie, we were told
to expect a red mirage. yet early vote count went blue, basically favoring democrats, then tightened for the republicans. >> i never thought there was going to be a red mirage. the early vote and mail-in vote was being reported first. the democrats were well ahead. you know, listen. i think as far as president trump's concerned, most of these races come down to the candidates themselves. but when you're leader of the party, if you win, you get credit. if you lose, you get blame. >> when we say taking control of congress, so many policy issues may or may not get a green light for the biden administration. >> if the democrats win, a lot of things you didn't think were possible, you can start to shape a bipartisan majority to get done. if you didn't win, you ask senator mcconnell and his answer would be take a hike. things you can do legislatively and it carries more weight.
>> sarah, on president trump, kelly loeffler has been one of president trump's staunchest defenders, said she'd object to the certification of the electoral college results. how do you think this will play out for her? >> i think hers is the much higher hurdle. i think there's some people have projected that she's unlikely to win her seat. so i think that that hurt her with suburban voters. of course, democrats have done very well in this election. it remains to be seen whether they're renting suburban voters or whether there's a shift that's going to stick with the democratic party for a longer period of time. s >> yvette, that's an interesting premonition from sara. let me get you to ponder a bit about control of the senate. clearly it can determine president-elect biden's cabinet confirmations, judicial appointments. not to mention his legislative priorities. >> it's a major win. when you think about the fact that there is still hundreds of bills that passed the house,
many of them bipartisan, that are sitting on mitch mcconnell's desk. at the very least, he was -- he's guilty of inaction. at the worst, obstruction. i think the fact that we will at least be able to get things through shows i think a strong, strong opportunity with these two seats we're looking forward to. >> rahm, all eyes will be on vp pence tomorrow as he presides over that ceremony that will certify president-elect biden's victory. pip openly pressured his veep to throw a wrench into the process. how do you see that working out? >> he's going to play it straight because he knows there is no other choice. his role is just to read what's in the envelope. he can't determine whether to read it or not. i also think, though, symbolically this battle is about the soul of the republican party. are you going to follow the rule of law? or are you going to say we're not going to follow not only the rule of law but the very core principle of the country, which is the public, the citizens, decide who governs, not the
governed decide who gets to vote? >> governor christie, you've been a confidant of the president. what do you think his refusal to accept reality has done to our democracy and the republican party writ large, not only tonight's results but into the future? >> the president has failed to show evidence that this election was stolen, and that's why tomorrow joe biden will be confirmed. so i think that we're being a little breathless to talk about the long-term ramifications for our democracy, because i don't think there will be any. >> that will have to be the final note. chris christie, thank you. rahm, yvette, sara, the fab four, appreciate your time and insights. coming up, inside the race to the finish line in georgia. ♪
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and we can protect california for generations to come. with abc news projecting democrat raphael warnock's victory in one of the two georgia senate races, abc's steve osunsami brings us the biggest moments leading up to today's election. >> reporter: with the nation watching, voters went to the polls today. 18-year-old christopher harrell was voting for the first time. >> today, i get to vote for myself. this is an amazing day. >> reporter: he voted in henry county, home to nearly 235,000 people. >> everybody voting, that's the big thing. it's good to voice your opinion, voice who you feel like should be the right person to vote for. >> reporter: harrell says he voted for the blue team, jon
ossoff and raphael warnock. but for him, this is about much more than who wins the election. >> we have ancestors that have fought for this cause, civil rights, the right for to us vote. the fact that we have this chance now to vote is huge. >> reporter: across the state, georgia's voters were turning out like never before for this runoff election. >> it's important for them to realize what's at stake today, our freedom, our liberties, to save america. >> reporter: senator david perdue in quarantine after being exposed to coronavirus. the other candidates spent the day out getting supporters to vote. >> georgia voters have never had more power than you have today. >> the future of the country is on the ballot here in georgia today. >> sounds like you're ready to win an election! >> reporter: more than 3 million voted early. that's 40% of registered voters. and 1 million more than the total turnout for the last runoff in 2008. a significant part of the vote was by mail, and the election in november underlined that democrats are much more likely
to vote by mail. >> democrats have been doing whatever they can to bring in new voters, even voters who didn't vote in november, and try to bank those votes, get those people to vote early. >> reporter: republicans needed a strong turnout to keep their two senate seats but they didn't. but many republicans in georgia are concerned that the constant claims of voter fraud and rigged elections kept some republicans from turning to vote. >> that was a rigged election. >> reporter: my colleague, rachel scott, heard this firsthand. >> many of us georgians have lost faith in trusting the electoral process, which i thought would never happen. >> frustrating. but i believe in the democratic process, that we have a right to vote. >> reporter: state election officials who are all republicans are telling their voters that this election is safe and secure. >> the secretary wants me to make clear that everybody's vote is going to count. >> reporter: after losing the state to joe biden by 11,779
votes, president trump has worked nonstop to try and overturn the election results. his latest high-profile attempt, calling georgia's secretary of state, brad raffensperger, and asking him to somehow give him more votes than joe biden. >> look, brad, i got to get -- i have to find 12,000 votes, and i have them times a lot. >> reporter: but raffensperger, who received death threats for refusing to overturn georgia's legal and certified election, has held firm. >> and there's nothing wrong with saying that, you know, that you've recalculated. >> well, mr. president, the challenge that you have, the data you have is wrong. >> president trump is at war with top republican officials in the state. it has been inconvenient at best, and at worst, highly problematic, for these senators to have to navigate the fact that the president is on the record saying the governor and secretary of state, both republicans, are part of a conspiracy. >> reporter: former georgia assemblyman steven alison's group americans for prosperity
action has been hard at work since november. he says his team knocked on a million doors trying to get republican voters to the polls. >> we actually still have people knocking on doors. we are playing it till the very last hour, trying to get people back out there. >> reporter: alison says he's sure despite all the drama, conservative voters are going to win the day. >> i think a lot of people are voting for their beliefs and their value systems first. i think there are people that are concerned about what is going on. but am i worried about it? no, i have a lot of faith, and i think people are going to get out. we're hoping for a successful re-election for senator perdue. >> here we are at the black bus of america. election day in georgia, a day folks are waiting for. >> reporter: the get out the vote effort was huge. it included the work of people like cliff albright. >> there's so much at stake. that choice that we made, that georgia shockingly played a big part in, flipping for the first time in over two decades.
that race, that decision, that result can't be fully realized and actualized if we don't also get change at the senate level. >> reporter: albright, cofounder of black voters matter, a group focused on engaging african-american voters nationwide. >> what's been happening isn't a fluke. it's a new kind of community, it's a new kind of state. in changing georgia, in changing the south, we change this country. because as goes the south, so goes this country. >> reporter: he and his team drove a bus through georgia's blackest counties. >> part of the reason we called it black voters matter and not black votes matter is because there's a lot of people that care about black votes that really don't care that much about black voters. >> we're going out, we're going door to door, we're going to socially distance, we're going to put on these door hangers to remind people to vote. >> reporter: one of their stops was fulton county, the largest county in the state, and nearly 45% black. >> south fulton is great. a lot of energy.
if old national and south fulton is any example or bellwether, there's going to be big turnout. >> reporter: fulton went heavily for biden in november. >> biden won because you had over a decade of civil society doing the grassroots mobilization to deal with the barriers of voter suppression. >> reporter: the president talked plenty of trash about fulton county, which includes atlanta, in his phone call with georgia's secretary of state. >> fulton county is totally corrupt. because they cheated like nobody's ever cheated before. >> they're linking this trope of criminality and deceit with blackness. it is a tried and true political ploy. >> reporter: this runoff election turned into one of the most bitter and polarizing elections in the state's history. >> these candidates are tearing the tar off each other. it has been very, very personal, highly vitriolic, and in your face for voters.
>> jon ossoff's china scandal keeps getting worse. >> reporter: the attack ads were inescapable. >> radical raphael warnock compared israel to a racist country. >> reporter: on social media, on television. >> it's not just that you're a crook, senator. >> as kelly loeffler downplays the threat publicly, she makes sale after sale. >> reporter: the cost of it all, more than $500 million in smears and name calling. many voters in georgia are ready for the whole bitter campaign to be over. >> what do you hope happens tonight? >> i hope for a peaceful, organized, and respectful election. i think a lot of people in here, no matter what color, race, creed you are -- i mean, we're all americans. that's what really matters. >> reporter: but they may not get their wish. trump supporters are preparing for battle in washington, d.c. as the president and his supporters in congress try to overturn the election one last time. and so the election that seems to never end carries on for at
least one more day. >> our thanks to steve. and we'll be right back with "the final note." and resurface over time. febreze fabric refresher eliminates odors. its water-based formula safely penetrates fabrics where odors hide. spray it on your rugs, your curtains, your furniture, all over your home to make it part of your tidying up routine. febreze fabric refresher, for an all-over freshness you'll love. ♪ oh, oh, (announcer)®! ♪ once-weekly ozempic® is helping many people with type 2 diabetes like emily lower their blood sugar. a majority of adults who took ozempic® reached an a1c under 7 and maintained it. here's your a1c. oh! my a1c is under 7! (announcer) and you may lose weight. adults who took ozempic® lost on average up to 12 pounds.
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