President Donald Trump, who has blamed his loss to President-elect Joe Biden on false claims that the U.S. voting system was "rigged," urged his supporters on Friday not to boycott two all-important Georgia runoff elections that will determine which party controls the Senate.
With Democrats poised to take the White House and hold on to their House majority, the Senate has become the last bastion for Republicans to keep a check on the power of the lower chamber and the executive branch.
But the GOP's hold on the Senate depends on winning at least one of Georgia's two runoffs. Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler face competitive challenges from Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively. Georgia election rules called for runoff races when no candidate exceeded 50% of voter share in either race during the Nov. 3 general election.
In response to Newsmax reporting that Georgia Trump supporters are considering boycotting the runoff elections over voter fraud claims, the president wrote on Twitter: "We must get out and help David and Kelly, two GREAT people," even as he again asserted, without evidence, that the election was a "total scam."
Trump will travel to Georgia on Dec. 5 to campaign for Perdue and Loeffler, according to White House spokesman Judd Deere.
The president's persistent attacks on election integrity could impact the outcome of the January runoffs, GOP strategist and pollster Frank Luntz told CNBC.
"If he continues to disillusion voters ... by saying that the elections were rigged and that your vote doesn't matter, this could have severe consequences for the administration in trying to keep those two seats Republican," Luntz said on CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Monday.
"I would argue that what Donald Trump says, and does, over the next six weeks is going to determine the outcome of the Georgia Senate race and well may determine the outcome of our country overall," Luntz said.
Trump's campaign said Saturday it would seek a second recount of election results paid for by taxpayer-funded local jurisdictions.
The secretary of state of Georgia on Nov. 20 officially certified the results of its presidential election race after a full hand recount of votes, confirming that Biden beat Trump by more than 12,000 votes. Biden is the first Democrat to win Georgia's presidential race since 1992.