Democrats Win Crucial Senate Races in Georgia


Democrats Win Crucial Senate Races in Georgia
Isabella B. and Zeyna T.

2020 has been a year of political turmoil culminating in a highly partisan presidential election. Biden’s win in November has generated excitement for new democratic policy. However, the country – as well as the legislature- is politically and ideologically divided, making legislation difficult to pass.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have faced political gridlock because they have been controlled by different parties. After November’s election, the senate contained fifty Republican senators and forty-eight democratic senators with the last two seats up for grabs. Following the recent U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia, the senate is now split evenly between Democrats and Republicans.

What are the Georgia Senate Races?

The Georgia election laws require 50% + 1 votes to be elected into office instead of it being the candidate who obtains the most votes. In November 2020, both senate seats were up for election, but none of the candidates received more than 50% of the votes, as a result of this, two follow-up elections were held on January 5, these were the run-off elections.

In one election, Republican candidate Senator David Perdue was running against Democrat Jon Ossoff, and in the other election was Republican Senator Kelly Loefler challenging Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock. At the time, the Republicans controlled the senate with a 50-48 margin; however, this changed since both Ossoff and Warnock won, making the Senate 50-50. The Democrats have technically regained control of the Senate because Vice President Kamala Harris will more often than not break the 50-50 tie by siding with the Democrats.

Additionally, the Senate Majority Leader will change due to the outcome of the two run-offs. Since the Senate Majority Leader always reflects the majority party of the Senate, the Senate Majority Leader will no longer be Mitch McConnell, instead it will likely be Chuck Schumer.

How will this election affect the Biden Administration?

The election in Georgia is crucial for providing a better opportunity for Joe Biden’s policy to be enacted. Because of the increased significance of the elections, the senators garnered direct support from Trump, Obama, and Biden, although Trump’s support mostly centered around his belief that he may still be president for the next four years. If both the democratic senatorial candidates had lost the election, it would have given “Republicans control of the Senate, and even if one of the Republicans [had won] , it could limit Biden’s ability to pass legislation and it may interfere with the president-elect’s cabinet picks”(USA Today). The Senate approves a president’s cabinet appointments, and having a majority of republicans would influence the approval process. Besides the cabinet approvals, legislation and possible supreme court nominations would have been more difficult to confirm. The process of a bill becoming a law includes a passage by several committees of the House of Representatives, and if the bill survives past the house, it is sent to the Senate. Because the House is controlled by the democratic party, the democratic legislature has a better chance of making it to the senate. The Senate goes through a similar process as the House to approve a bill. After a bill passes both the House and the Senate, it is subject to further debate and approval by the President. Political gridlock leads to stalemates and the slow passage of laws. Now that Democrats have more control over the congress, there is a greater chance for important agendas such as infrastructure, environmental, healthcare, tax, education, and other policies to be passed.

Does Georgia represent an important trend of our country?

Another reason the run-offs in Georgia were so significant this year is because Georgia has not been a swing state since 1992. In every presidential election since the year 1996 Georgia has voted red. The fact that in 2020 the citizens of Georgia rejected Donald Trump and voted for Joe Biden shows that many people’s political ideologies are slowly shifting, especially in the South. Not only does this lead to increased uncertainty as to whether Georgia should be assumed a red state or blue state, it also raises questions of what other states could suddenly become more democratic in the elections to come.

As 2021 begins, the political landscape is as divided as ever. The Senatorial elections in Georgia will be influential in providing the changes Biden is advocating for after his inauguration this month.