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On the day of the crucial Senate runoffs in Georgia, the GOP is at war with itself

Summary List PlacementAs voters in Georgia head to the polls to decide whether Republicans or Democrats will control the US Senate, the GOP is torn by infighting.  Still pursuing his groundless claims that the presidential election was stolen from him as a result of mass fraud, President Donald Trump has turned on the party’s leadership…

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On the day of the crucial Senate runoffs in Georgia, the GOP is at war with itself

Summary List PlacementAs voters in Georgia head to the polls to decide whether Republicans or Democrats will control the US Senate, the GOP is torn by infighting. 
Still pursuing his groundless claims that the presidential election was stolen from him as a result of mass fraud, President Donald Trump has turned on the party’s leadership in the state and in Congress.
While he and many loyalists assert that the election was stolen, a large contingent of Congressional Republicans accept that President-elect Joe Biden won the White House in November, and are preparing to certify the result.
This has placed the Republican party’s candidates in the runoffs, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, in a bind. 
Instead of presenting a unified front, they have been forced to choose between Trump, who retains enormous popularity among the grassroots Republicans, or the Congressional leaders who will be the top elected GOP figures when Trump’s term ends on January 20.
Read more: Trump’s sad implosion is a good sign for Biden’s agenda
So far, both have opted to back the president, securing them his prized endorsement at a rally held in the state on the eve of the election.
Perdue and Loeffler both backed Trump’s demands for $2,000 direct-payment checks as part of the recent stimulus package, putting them at odds with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who effectively killed Trump’s demand for more cash over the holidays.
The split has unquestionably hobbled parts of the GOP re-election efforts.
Trump in pursuing his election fraud quest has attacked the integrity of the runoffs themselves, tweeting on January 1 that the races are “illegal and invalid.”
He has since changed tack and encouraged his base to vote, but this repeated assertions of fraud may have succeeded in keeping some Republican voters home.
The president’s obsession has also damaged the GOP’s core message ahead of the runnoffs, weakening the urgency with which they could claim they need to retain the Senate to hold back President-elect Joe Biden.
If Republicans lose both seats, the Senate goes with it. They and the Democrats (including two independents) would hold 50 seats each, with a tie-breaker vote for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
However, sketching out this scenario requires acknowledging that Trump lost. If voters truly believe that he and Mike Pence will remain in office after January 20, then GOP Senate control is not at risk.
In November Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel deleted a campaign tweet asserting the stakes of the Georgia race because it made reference to a future Biden-Harris administration.
Data from polling website FiveThirtyEight shows that in the weeks since Trump intensified his attacks against GOP leadership, both Perdue and Loeffler have fallen behind their Democratic challengers, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. 
But despite the chaos in the Republican party, their job on Tuesday is in one key respect easier.
They must win only one of the two races to keep maintain control of the Senate, while Democrats need both victories for the chamber to change hands.
A poll from a GOP PAC published by Axios showing the races in a statistical dead heat could give them cause for cautious optimism, despite their fractured campaign.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: What makes ‘Parasite’ so shocking is the twist that happens in a 10-minute sequence
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