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So, who's going to win Georgia's U.S. Senate races?

For every piece of information pointing in one direction, there's a competing piece of information pointing in the opposite direction.
Image: Georgia Democratic Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff bump elbows during a "It's Time to Vote" drive-in rally
Georgia Democratic Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff bump elbows during a "It's Time to Vote" drive-in rally on Dec. 28, 2020 in Stonecrest, Ga.Jessica McGowan / Getty Images

A friend asked me the other day for my prediction about Georgia's U.S. Senate runoffs. He knows that I generally don't publish predictions to MaddowBlog, but he figured I might say privately what I wouldn't necessarily write for public consumption.

But given interest in the races and the importance of the results, I'm going to make an exception and divulge my personal expectations: I really don't know what to think.

My point is not to be coy or evasive. Rather, the problem I have with making a prediction is that for every piece of information pointing in one direction, there's a competing piece of information pointing in the opposite direction.

Democrats have reason to be optimistic because Joe Biden recently proved that a Democrat can win a competitive statewide race in Georgia, which has been a reliably red state in recent decades.

Republicans have reason to be optimistic because in November, non-Trump GOP candidates did quite well in Georgia, and Trump won't be on the ballot tomorrow.

Democrats have reason to be optimistic because polls show Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock with narrow advantages.

Republicans have reason to be optimistic because runoff polling, especially surveys conducted over the winter holidays, is notoriously suspect.

Democrats have reason to be optimistic because Republicans are increasingly divided against each other.

Republicans have reason to be optimistic because intra-party divisions are often irrelevant to actual vote totals (see the 2016 cycle, for example).

Democrats have reason to be optimistic because Republicans are quietly expecting to lose.

Republicans have reason to be optimistic because Democrats are also quietly expecting to lose.

Democrats have reason to be optimistic because the early-voting totals look impressive for the challengers.

Republicans have reason to be optimistic because we don't know who those early voters supported, and early-voting data is "notoriously uninformative" about the ultimate results.

Democrats have reason to be optimistic because turnout in Georgia has been robust, and higher turnout usually points to Democratic victories.

Republicans have reason to be optimistic because the 2020 cycle offered plenty of examples of the opposite.

Democrats have reason to be optimistic because Warnock and Ossoff have had prolific success raising money for their campaigns.

Republicans have reason to be optimistic because Loeffler and Perdue have benefited financially from generous support from PACs and super PACs.

So where does that leave us? I could talk myself into thinking Republicans are likely to prevail: Georgia is still a reddish state in the South; neither Ossoff nor Warnock have ever won an election; and incumbent senators traditionally enjoy a small advantage that can matter in close contests.

I could also talk myself into thinking Democrats have a slight edge: Perdue and Loeffler have been tarnished by credible corruption allegations; Warnock and Ossoff have run surprisingly strong campaigns; and Trump has spent a couple of months telling his followers in the state that their votes won't matter.

All of which is to say, it looks like a couple of toss-ups to me.

Postscript: The conventional wisdom is that both parties' candidates are effectively running as a ticket, which means either both Republicans will win or both Democrats will win. That's probably right, but not definitely: Nate Silver recently kicked around the possibility of Perdue and Warnock winning at the same time.