Challengers Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock defeated incumbent senators David Perdue and Kelly Leoffler, respectively, in the runoff elections that took place on Tuesday, Jan. 5. These runoff elections are held in Georgia if neither candidate wins the majority (that is, 50% + 1) in the general election. Before the runoff election, Republicans held a 50-48 margin against the Democratic caucus. Now that both Democratic candidates succeeded, the Senate caucasus are tied 50-50, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris to break any ties.
“Now that both Democratic candidates succeeded, the Senate caucasus are tied 50-50, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris to break any ties”
The most obvious outcome of this election is that Georgia is turning blue. Although Ossoff and Warnock led by a mere 2%, their victory is still extremely remarkable as Democrats have not won any of the eight runoff elections in Georgia since 1992. The victory in Georgia can be largely attributed to Stacey Abrams, who registered over 800,000 new voters and fought against voter suppression. She focused on a community-oriented approach called grassroots organizing, in which she and many others reached out to individuals through phone banking or door-to-door conversations. Reverend Warnock’s win is also relatively significant as he is the first Black senator in Georgia.
Perhaps the most significant effect, though, is the change in structure of the U.S. Senate and, by extension, the executive branch. Mitch McConnell will henceforth be known as the Senate minority leader, and previously disregarded bills, such as the stimulus bill, now have a fighting chance. As the GOP loses control of the Senate committees, President-elect Biden will likely be under less scrutiny, and this blue edge streamlines certain processes. For example, Biden’s presidential appointments will be approved with very little interruption. Lastly, the Georgia win paves the way for a legislatively productive four years, especially with Biden’s extensive plans on healthcare, the economy, the environment and government reform.
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