You might be thinking to yourself, ‘Thank goodness all of that US election stress is over. At least we don’t have to worry about that for a little bit, right?’
Oh boy, do I have something fun for you.
You’ve probably heard by now, but Georgia is still in the throes of the election. In November, two Senate seats were up for election, previously held by Republican Senate incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. However, in both races, no candidate won a majority (50 percent + 1 percent). Perdue only narrowly missed the mark, with 49.7 percent, and is running off against Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff who received 47.9 percent of the votes. The second race, which was a special election to fill the seat of recently resigned Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, was divided. The Democratic candidate Reverend Raphael Warnock received 32.9 percent of votes, but the Republican party split between Loeffler who received 25.9 percent and Doug Collins who received 20 percent of the votes. As a result, no one candidate qualified.
Since Georgia’s elections use a run-off system between the top two candidates of each race, we are still awaiting the final showdown of Perdue v. Ossoff and Loeffler v. Warnock. Moreover, the election candidates have continued to actively campaign. Early voting already began on December 14th, with over 1.6 million Georgia voters already turning in their ballots. The official election day for the runoffs is January 5.
Georgia has been breaking all types of expectations this year. In November, not only was there a record in early voter turnout, with over 1.1 million votes by mail and over 1.2 million in person, but the state also flipped from its traditionally Republican-leanings and voted for President-elect Joe Biden, giving him 16 of the electoral college votes. A lot of this has been attributed to early voter turnout and the persistent on-the-ground campaigning by organizers such as Stacey Abrams, who has helped to mobilize Black voters for the past several years.
Georgia voted for a Democratic president, what does the Senate matter now?
While Georgia’s red-to-blue flip for a Democratic president was important – and honestly, pretty dramatic – the upcoming Senate elections and even more important. These Senate seats determine the ability of the Biden administration to actually run some of its most progressive plans. Currently, the Republican Party holds the majority of the incoming Senate seats. However, if either Loeffler or Perdue win their respective races, then the Senate remains a Republic majority. However, if both Ossof and Warnock win, then the Democratic and Republican parties would be tied in the Senate. Ultimately, any ties that might occur in the Senate would be broken by vice president-elect Kamala Harris.
Georgia’s Senate elections would have huge implications for the promises that the Biden administration made on the campaign trail. With a Democratic majority in both Senate and House, it would give more leeway for the president-elect to not only work on his long-term promises but also his immediate goals for the first 100 days in office. This will likely affect cooperation for future stimulus bills during the pandemic, considering how the current one under Republican leadership in the Senate has struggled to get off the ground.
Moreover, Republican Senator incumbents Loeffler and Perdue have both refused to acknowledge Biden as president-elect, even after the Electoral College has voted. Earlier this month, Loeffler refused to rule out a formal protest of Biden’s victory in Georgia’s elections from November. Perdue also restated his allegiance to President Donald Trump, stating “I have fought alongside President Trump since day one to get our agenda accomplished, and I continue to stand with him now. This could pose a problem for bipartisan cooperation in the Senate. Ultimately, it would continue to exacerbate a partisan divide that has not only plagued Congress but the United States.
With the voting day for Georgia’s elections rapidly approaching, it’s important that we don’t forget how important the individual states and votes are. Keep in mind, Biden only won Georgia by a narrow margin over Trump: 12,670 votes.
As I’ve said before, there is always more to keep fighting for.
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