After the Runoff: A New Blue Georgia
By: Fraser Passmore
The 2020 United States election cycle finally concluded on January 5th after Georgians voted in the Senate Runoffs, and the choices they made were historic. After weeks of aggressive campaigning, Georgia elected Democrats to both of their Senate seats, Raphael Warnock defeating Senator Kelly Loeffler and Jon Ossoff defeating Senator David Perdue. Both of these victories are historic in their own right, Warnock will be the first African American Senator from Georgia, and Ossoff will be the first Jewish Senator from the state. Historical precedents aside, the question arises on how these two Democrats won in Georgia on top of Joe Biden flipping it in the presidential election.
As I have written in the past, it is no easy task to examine an election and all of its factors after only a few days or weeks. Georgians were driven to remove Republican influence at the senatorial level, and that could have been for a variety of reasons. Outgoing President Donald Trump’s voter fraud calls were not assisting Loeffler or Perdue in their re-election bids. The baseless claims and shot down court cases weeks after the November 3rd election, pushed swing voters to the side of Democrats, hoping to strip whatever power the GOP had left in Washington. President Trump was not on the ballot in these elections either, possibly discouraging some from coming out to vote, especially after President Trump questioned Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s judgment when it came to allegations of voter fraud. These falsehoods may have pushed supporters of President Trump away from more established Republicans. While these are valid and likely theories, I believe Democrats and swing voters understood the weight of these elections. These two wins give Democrats the Senate majority with a 50-50 split and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris breaking the tie. If Americans wanted a properly functioning government, they needed Warnock and Ossoff in the Senate.
A 50-50 split Senate is not game over for Republicans, a resignation or death can change who has the majority and ultimately affect legislation. Regardless of this, having the House, Senate, and White House, Democrats are in a strong position compared to where they were four years ago. The Democrats have not controlled all three key levels of the government since 2010, early in the Obama Presidency. The Georgia victories will make President-Elect Joe Biden’s vision for The United States more of a reality. Having the Senate majority can allow President-Elect Biden to pass a Covid-19 stimulus bill, one which includes $2000 cheques for Americans. It also enables easier pathways for healthcare reform, concerns on gun control, and the ability to reverse negative policies enacted during the Trump Presidency. There were concerns over President-Elect Biden’s cabinet nominees having an easy nomination process, as it was expected Republicans would likely make a fuss over something. Two fewer Republican senators eased some of those concerns. If a Supreme Court vacancy appears during the first two years of the Biden Presidency, this majority will allow The President-Elect to appoint who he sees fit without much pushback. With Democrats controlling all three functions of government, it is a clear rebuttal of the last four years, and the main cause being President Donald Trump.
I have talked in a previous article about why President Trump lost and what it means about the Republican party, but now his presidency has affected more than just the White House. In 2016, President Trump won Georgia by 5 points, two years earlier in 2014, Senator David Perdue won by 7 points over his Democrat challenger. By embracing Donald Trump, the Republicans may have jeopardized parts of their voter base in key swing states. Georgia is now seen as a competitive swing state and has had a total transformation from 2016. The rhetoric from President Trump has put doubts into the minds of some moderate Republicans and it is showing. Georgia’s path is not set-in-stone, it remains to be seen how races in 2022 and 2024 will play out. Perhaps these Democrat wins are flukes like North Carolina in 2008, or it is the early signs of changing party lines. Democrats for sure owe these gains for the poor judgment of Republicans in nominating Donald J. Trump in 2016. Thanks to them, there is now a bright blue Georgia in a sea of red.