By Riley Mulcahy
All eyes were on Georgia last Tuesday as voters decided which Party controls the Senate in two air-tight races. Incumbent senators, Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, lost to Democrat candidates Raphel Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the most expensive Senate race ever. Along with Thursday’s certification of President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory against the outgoing President Trump, the Democrats have control in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, which means it will allow Biden to pass legislation that would not be possible if the Republicans still held majority power in the Senate.
After November’s crushing Senate results for Democrats, the need for Warnock and Ossoff victories was of vital importance. In the General Election on November 3, Warnock campaigned against both Loffler and former Georgia Congressman Doug Collins of Georgia. Although Warnock won the general race with 32.90% of the vote against Loeffler’s 25.91% and Collins’ 19.95%, Georgia state law states that a runoff is triggered if a candidate does not win at least 50% of the vote.
According to Newsweek, before the runoff on Tuesday, Warnock and Ossoff’s chances of winning were slim. Although early projections had Democrats slightly in the lead, Georgia has been a reliably red state for decades until Biden’s victory in Georgia. At the beginning of Tuesday night, Ossoff and Warnock were slightly ahead of their Republican opponents, however as the night progressed it looked like it could go either way.
Although Ossoff’s victory was not declared until the next day, Warnock was able to maintain a slight lead which pulled him across the finish line. In a surprising turn of events, Warnock obtained more votes than his counterpart Ossoff, a difference of .04% — which in such a tightly contested race, could have meant Democrats would have won only one of the seats, which would mean Republicans would maintain control of the Senate.
Although Georgia is thought of as a conservative state, changing demographics and record turnout made Democratic wins possible. Stacey Abrams, the founder of Fair Fight and former Democratic Georgian Gubernatorial candidate created an unprecedented effort to drive voter turnout in Georgia, registering close to 800,000 Georgians for the general election, which helped catapult Biden’s victory in the state. Both Ossoff and Warnock performed better than Biden in many metropolitan counties, which pushed Democrats to victory both on Tuesday and in November, in large part by the efforts of Abrams. Abrams has been applauded by publications, with Vogue naming her “The Most Influential Woman in 2021.”
Republicans did not fare as well as expected mainly because of high turnout in Atlanta and surrounding counties, however, President Trump’s rhetoric is partly to blame as well. According to The New York Times, Trump called the election “invalid and illegal”, which made Georgian Republicans question the legitimacy of the election. The tweet, and The Washington Post’s reporting of Trump conversation with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which he pressured the Secretary of State to quote “find” 11,870 votes has made Republicans wary of the Democratic process. Trump’s claims of election fraud have been unproven.
Melanie Moyer '22,