By Emma McNamee
With Biden’s transition now fully underway and the House of Representative’s majority secured for the Democrats, the results of the 2020 elections appear cemented…except for the U.S. Senate. Currently sitting at a 50-48 split and Republican’s maintaining a slim lead, control for the Senate will come down to the double runoff elections in Georgia.
The Georgia Situation
Under Georgia law, candidates must receive a minimum of 50 percent of the vote in order to win the election. If there is no majority winner, the two frontrunners go forward with a runoff election, which was the case for both of Georgia’s senate races after November 3rd. Georgia was the only state in this election to have two senate races, due to the health-related resignation of Republican senator Johnny Isakson. Kelley Loeffler was appointed to his seat and after obtaining 25.9 percent of the vote, Loeffler will be facing Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock who was the frontrunner of the Special Election race, with almost 33% of the vote.
The second Georgia race was much tighter, with Republican incumbent David Perdue coming in just under the necessary majority at 49.7 percent of the vote. However, his opponent, Jon Ossoff was less than two points behind and the two will face off again in the January runoff.
Scheduled for the 5th of January, Georgia has already seen a record number of requests for absentee ballots as citizens prepare for the runoff election. December 7th is the voter registration deadline, and new voters who will be 18 by the time of the runoff election are encouraged to register.
Already, there is speculation of huge amounts of money being poured into both of these races on either side as these elections will play instrumental roles in deciding the makeup of the 117th Senate. In a year where Georgia has already played a historical part by turning blue in the presidential election, Democrats have high hopes for the Senate races as well, especially since the state has not elected a democratic senator in almost 25 years.
Should Democrats manage to take both seats, with the additional support of the two Independent senators that caucus with their party the Senate would come down to a 50-50 divide. In this scenario, Democrats would gain control of the Senate, due to vice-president-elect Kamala Harris filling the position of tiebreaker, creating a united democratic front in both bodies of Congress for the new presidency to work with. It would be a major win for the Democratic Party, who struggled with passing policy through a Republican Senate during Obama’s administration. Having not gained as many Senate seats as they had hoped during the 2020 election and having lost a portion of their House margin, a win like this would be a huge boost to the Democrats.
However, losing just one of these seats would ensure the Republican hold on the Seante until at least the midterm elections in 2022. This would give Republican’s some control in a government where both the presidency and House of Representatives have gone democratic and most certainly put a dent in President-elect Biden’s plans. Certain ideas would be laid to rest, like the end of the senate filibuster, a divisive issue for both voters and Senators alike. Republicans would be in a decisive position to stop policy coming out of Biden’s White House which would make for a rough start to the president-elect’s new administration.
Whatever the outcome, the Georgia race will decide the makeup of the 117th senate, and with it, likely, the tone of the first two years of Biden’s presidency.