After another runoff in November, the Democrat asked Georgia voters “one more time” to put him over the top in December, and they did it again.
Since November 2020, Warnock has won the most votes in Georgia Senate elections four times in a row. But because state law says that statewide candidates need a majority to win a general election, Warnock had to do the same thing in both his special election in 2020 and his bid for a full six-year term in 2022.
If he beats Republican nominee Herschel Walker in this head-to-head race, Democrats will have 51 seats in the Senate to the GOP’s 49. This will give the Peach State a stronger chance of being a key presidential battleground in 2024. As the midterm elections of 2022 come to a close, here are five things to remember from the last one in Georgia.
With The 51st Seat, Democrats Have A Real Majority
Democrats already had control of the Senate because they had won 50 seats last month. This meant that Vice President Kamala Harris would be able to vote to break ties, just like she does now. But thanks to Warnock’s win on Tuesday, the Democrats who run the Senate and President Joe Biden’s administration will gain a lot from getting a 51st seat.
In the beginning of this year, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was seen on Capitol Hill. Now, the party will go into 2023 with a real majority in the Senate, which won’t need the power-sharing deal that has been in place for the last two years in a chamber that was evenly split. This means that Democrats will have the majority on committees, making it easier for them to move forward with Biden’s nominees.
For example, the 22 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will change from 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans to 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans. This takes away a way for the GOP to slow down the process of confirming Biden’s judicial nominees.
Democratic leaders, on the other hand, are less likely to be held hostage by a single senator, since the party can now afford to lose a vote. Harris, who has already broken more ties than any vice president and more than any vice president since John Calhoun almost 200 years ago, would have less ties to Capitol Hill.
It also gives the Democrats a boost before the 2024 election, when they will have to defend several seats in deep-red states like West Virginia and Montana to keep their majority.
Georgia Is A Swing State As Long As Nothing Else Changes
As long as former President Donald Trump is still a big deal in Republican politics, Georgia is likely to be a key battleground on Election Day, especially when federal offices are up for vote. Before Tuesday, there might have been some doubt, but it’s gone now.
On Tuesday, Sen. Raphael Warnock, on the left, and Herschel Walker, on the right, will face each other in a runoff.
Walker was Trump’s choice to run against Warnock, but he lost, even though he ran with a popular Republican governor the first time and then had that governor’s support and endorsement on the campaign trail the second time.
Kemp’s inability to help Walker win says less about him or even Walker, who was a flawed candidate no matter what, and more about how the state’s political parties are shifting. A state that used to be a symbol of the Old South is now a real swing state because of changing demographics, an evolving economy, and smart, persistent organizing by Democrats.
The Machine That Gets Democrats To Vote Strikes Again
After the 2020 election, Georgia Republicans passed a controversial law that, among other things, cut the time between a November election and a possible runoff. This shortened the time between elections, making it harder for people to vote by mail and giving them less time to vote early in person.
In Georgia, the Democratic turnout machine has worked well over the past four weeks. It got off to a good start years ago thanks to the work of Stacey Abrams and her allies, and it paid off again in a race that was so close that campaigns and national groups spent tens of millions of dollars on it.
Even though we don’t know yet how many votes were cast, the number of people who voted early in person before this year’s runoff was lower than in 2021. Because of the new law, the time between votes went from nine to four weeks. But it was still strong. During the last week of early voting, the state’s single-day early voting record was broken several times.
Turnout was especially high in key Democratic strongholds, such as big cities and suburbs that have become more blue since Donald Trump was elected president in 2016. Six years later, Georgia is both a symbol of how Trump seems to hurt the GOP and a model for Democrats who want to use it to their advantage.
Trump Messes Up Again With A Senate Seat
Before his third run for the White House, Trump tried to use the midterm elections in 2022 to fill Congress and state legislatures with people who had been elected with his help. Instead, he backed a number of flawed and controversial candidates who lost races that the GOP was expected to win. Walker’s loss on Tuesday night put him on the same list as Blake Masters and Mehmet Oz in Arizona and Doug Mastriano and Kari Lake in Arizona and Tim Michels and Tudor Dixon and Doug Mastriano in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
No Republican presidential candidate had lost Georgia since 1992. But because Trump was running again, the Democrats won the presidency in 2020 and both of the state’s Senate seats in 2021 runoffs. Then, this year, they won another Senate seat by beating a candidate that the former president had put forward.
Trump has already started his campaign for president in 2024, so the losses have immediate effects. Every loss by a Republican backed by Trump is likely to anger donors, give potential opponents more confidence, and make GOP voters less sure of his political power.
After Walker’s loss, the blame game that started four weeks ago will likely get worse, and more people will call for the GOP to find a new leader.
Kemp Can’t Get The Ticket-splitters To Agree
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp stayed away from Walker as he easily won reelection against Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams this year. He won 2.1 million votes, which is about 200,000 more than Walker got against Warnock in November. But after his win, Kemp was more supportive of his party’s Senate nominee, even though he didn’t like Trump.
Kemp wanted to get some of the tens of thousands of people who split their ballots to vote for the GOP nominee in the runoff. He went to rallies with Walker, made TV ads for the former University of Georgia football star, and even gave a super PAC linked to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell the get-out-the-vote operation that helped him win. All of this was done to help Walker.
It was very different from what Trump did. On the day before the election, he held a televised rally for Walker, but he didn’t do much else to help in the runoff. And if Walker had won, Kemp would have been a big part of the reason why.
But the runoff in Georgia showed a lesson that both former President Barack Obama and later Trump had to learn: Voters’ support isn’t always easy to move from one candidate to another. Without Kemp on the ballot, many of the same moderate suburbanites who voted against Walker in November did so again in the runoff.
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