By: Maler Suresh
As of Saturday, all 159 counties in Georgia have confirmed the results of their highly anticipated Senate runoff elections, held January 5th. The election was a rare double run-off. Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock ran against Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in the Nov. 3 general election, but no candidate in that race passed the 50% threshold required under state law to win the Senate seats outright, forcing a runoff. Both President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President elect Kamala Harris, as well as President Donald Trump, campaigned in Georgia on behalf of their party candidates, and nearly $500 million was spent on campaign ads since Nov. 4. Each party hoped to maintain a majority in the Senate, previously held by Republicans who had 50 seats to the Democrats’ 48.
Both Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock won against their Republican opponents, giving the seats a 50/50 split, but incoming Vice-President elect Kamala Harris, a Democrat, will be the tiebreaker in any 50-50 vote, giving the Democrats majority control. This is the first time the Democrats will control the Senate since 2014, setting President-elect Joe Biden off on the right foot. Not only will it be easier for him to gain confirmation for his cabinet nominees, but it will boost his ability to carry out his early legislative agenda.
Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have both made history in this election. Ossoff is the first Jewish senator from Georgia, and at 33 years old, he will be the youngest sitting U.S. senator. Raphael Warnock will take office as Georgia’s first African-American senator and the first African-American Democratic senator from the South. Not only is this the first time Democrats have won Senate seats in Georgia since 2000, but Georgia election officials said turnout Tuesday shattered the previous record for a run-off in the state. More than 3 million people voted early, especially in heavily Democratic counties in the Atlanta area. In several cases, the Democrats outperformed the margins of victory in these counties that Biden used to win the state in November, which made him the first President to carry the state since 1992.
Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the two Republican candidates, attacked their opponents as “radical socialists,” using the same strategy as Trump used in the Presidential election. In addition, Loeffler made a statement the night before the election that if she were to be elected, she would join the other Republicans in the Senate fighting to delegitimize the election results. Leading up to the election, President Donald Trump made unfounded allegations about his election loss in Georgia. Some Republicans fear that Trump calling his election outcome rigged is the reason for lower turnout among their voters in the runoff.
Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock focused on the integrity of their opponents, both of whom have been accused of insider trading. They also recognized the economic hardship of the COVID-19 pandemic, slamming Loeffler and Perdue for being part of a Senate that for months refused to pass additional federal coronavirus relief.
Ossoff and Warnock are likely to be officially seated sometime in the coming week.