Joe Biden has officially been called President-Elect by all the major media outlets. Despite Donald Trump’s feeble legal attempts to undermine the election, there is no doubt that Biden will assume the office of the presidency on January 20th, 2021. In turn, Trump will become the tenth President in U.S. history to be unseated after just one term as President.
It was a long campaign. We saw more than 20 Democratic primary candidates, multiple packed debate stages, two less-than-desirable general election debates, endless campaign ads, countless text messages and phone calls, and a ceaseless barrage of Trump telling lies to save his hide.
I know you are tired. I am exhausted. November 3rd should have been the end of it. But the world isn’t fair, and there is more work to do. The Eye of Sauron turns to the state of Georgia. Both Senate seats are set for a runoff election in January, and the fate of Joe Biden’s first term as President hangs in the balance.
Within Georgia state law, a Senate candidate must secure at least 50% of the vote to win the election. A plurality of votes is not good enough. If they do not reach that threshold, a special runoff election is held between the top two vote-getters.
Georgia is even more unique this year because both Senate seats are up for grabs. Senator David Perdue’s six-year term was up, and this was a normal election situation. However, Senator Kelly Loeffler was appointed last year to fill in for retired Senator Johnny Isakson.
By law, Loeffler was required to defend her appointment in the subsequent election following her special appointment. That was the 2020 race. Low and behold, both sitting Senators failed to reach the 50% threshold to win re-election under Georgia law.
We will now see Republican incumbent Senator Perdue vs. Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff and Republican incumbent Senator Loeffler vs. Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock. Ossoff went viral in previous weeks for calling out Perdue’s alleged insider trading to his face in a televised debate.
With the general election all but wrapped up, the country turns to Georgia to see the Senate's fate be decided. On January 5th, Georgians will head to the polls once more to choose their candidates. This may be one of the most consequential elections in modern Congressional history.
Both Democratic challengers face an uphill battle. Not only are they facing incumbents, who traditionally hold the high ground in elections, but they are also up against the basic fact that while Georgians voted for Joe Biden, not as many voted for them. Not enough to win anyway.
Every so slightly, Georgia leaned to Biden in the election, thanks largely to urban and minority voters. You can thank Stacey Abrams for a large portion of those votes. However, Georgians didn’t vote straight ticket. Ossoff, for example, lagged behind Biden by a -1.8 point margin.
5 million people voted in Georgia’s November 3rd election. Approximately 100,000 who voted for Biden did not vote for Ossoff. A number he will have to change drastically to win in January.
Warnock’s situation is a little more convoluted but no less challenging. 20 candidates ran for Leoffler’s seat, with Warnock and the sitting Senator coming out first and second in total votes, with impeachment GOP star Doug Collins coming in a distant third.
As it stands, Alaskan Senator Dan Sullivan and North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, both Republicans, are set to win reelection. Counting those to races that are basically over but yet to be called, the GOP will hold exactly 50 seats in the Senate. Democrats hold 46 seats currently, along with two Independents who often caucus with them.
Georgia is the keystone. It is the destination for one of the most consequential runoff elections we have seen in a very long time. It is the difference between a productive first term for Joe Biden and one marred by obstruction and dead legislation. Despite Biden’s ‘reach across the aisle’ rhetoric, all Democrats do not want to pander to a Senate Majority Mitch McConnell any longer.
If the Democrats win both runoff elections in Georgia, the Senate will effectively be a 50–50 tie. Because there is no filibuster, where the Senate needs 60 votes to make decisions, all one party needs is a simple majority. This means Vice President Kamala Harris would be making several trips to Capitol Hill to cast her tie-breaking vote.
All the immediate dreams of progressives hinge on the Georgia Senate races. If those two seats can turn blue, Democrats will be able to pass a whole host of legislation changes: coronavirus stimulus, expanding the Supreme Court, student debt forgiveness, revoking the Trump Tax Cut, expanding and improving the Affordable Care Act, rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, and much much more.
If even one of the Georgia seats is lost to the Republicans, do not expect Mitch McConnell and his colleagues to budge on any such legislation or decisions made by the White House. With a conservative-leaning Supreme Court and lacking control in Congress, Joe Biden’s first term will be lost to roadblock after roadblock. Nothing will get done, and any progress made from banishing Donald Trump from office will wither away on the vine.
This is your shot, Democrats and progressives alike: January 5th, 2021. Mobilizing voters, registering new voters, and ensuring every eligible person makes it to the polls to vote. Literally everything Democrats want to do depends on how Georgians vote on January 5th.
If you can spare $5 or $50, contribute to these races. Stacey Abrams and the Georgia Democratic Party did not let us down on November 3rd. It is time we return the favor by making sure they are well-funded for a state-wide assault on voter suppression and disenfranchisement. The election is far from over, and the fate of the country relies on Georgia.