(Trends Wide) — Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock remains undefeated. After he had to go to a runoff in November, Warnock asked Georgia voters to put him on top “one more time” in December and, once again, they delivered.
Since November 2020, Warnock has been the top vote-getter in four consecutive Georgia Senate elections. But because of state law that requires candidates from across the state to obtain a majority to win a general election, Warnock had to duplicate the feat in both his 2020 special election and his 2022 bid for a full six-year term. .
His victory in this head-to-head race with Republican candidate Herschel Walker means the Democrats will add to their already-assured Senate majority, with 51 seats to the GOP’s 49, and cement Georgia as a presidential battleground. potentially decisive by 2024.
As the 2022 midterm cycle draws to a close, here are five takeaways from this final election night in Georgia.
Seat 51 gives Democrats the true majority in the Senate
Democrats had already secured control of the Senate, with 50 seats secured last month, allowing Vice President Kamala Harris to cast the tie-breaking vote as she does so far. But winning the 51st seat, thanks to Warnock’s victory on Tuesday, carries important benefits for the Democrats who run the Senate and for the administration of President Joe Biden.
Now the party will enter 2023 with a true majority in the Senate, one that will not require the power-sharing arrangement that has been in place for the past two years in a evenly divided chamber. That absolute majority means that the Democrats will have a majority in the commissions, which will allow them to advance more easily to Biden’s postulates.
For example: the Senate Judiciary Committee, with its 22 members, will go from a split of 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans to 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans. That removes a Republican process mechanism to delay the confirmation of Biden’s judicial nominees.
Democratic leaders, meanwhile, face a reduced risk that a single senator could hold their priorities hostage, as the party can now afford to lose a vote. Harris, who has already cast the third-most tiebreaking votes of any vice president, and the most since John Calhoun nearly 200 years ago, would be less tied to Capitol Hill.
It’s also an early boost for Democrats ahead of the 2024 election in which the party will have to defend several seats in deeply red states, including West Virginia and Montana, to maintain its majority.
Georgia is a swing state until further notice
As long as former President Donald Trump remains an influential figure in Republican politics, Georgia is poised to be a crucial battleground on Election Day, especially when federal charges are on the ballot.
If there was any doubt before this HAHA Tuesday, it has now been erased.
Walker was Trump’s choice of candidate to take on Warnock, and he was furious despite the fact that he first ran with a popular Republican governor and then, this time, with the express endorsement and support of that same governor on the campaign trail.
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s inability to get Walker to the finish line says less about him, or even Walker, a flawed candidate in any setting, than the state’s shifting partisan lineup. Changing demographics, an evolving economy, and tenacious, strategic organizing by Democrats have turned a beacon of the Old South into a legitimate swing state.
From here to 2024.
The Democratic Participation Machine Strikes Again
After the 2020 election, Georgia Republicans passed a controversial law that, among other things, reduced the amount of time between a November election and a potential runoff, creating a condensed timetable that narrowed the window for mail-in voters. and reduced the number of days to vote early in person.
I do not care.
The Democratic turnout machine in Georgia over the past four weeks, with a start going back years and owing in large part to the groundwork of Stacey Abrams and her allies, once again delivered in a hotly contested race that drew dozens of millions of dollars in spending by national campaigns and organizations.
While the final number of votes cast remains to be seen, the anticipated turnout of in-person voters ahead of this year’s runoff was lower than it was in 2021. That’s because the new law reduced the period between ballots from nine weeks to four But it is still very strong, having set the record for early voting in a single day during the last week of voting before the election.
Turnout was especially strong in key Democratic strongholds, including the largest metropolitan areas and suburbs that were dyed blue after former President Donald Trump’s election in 2016. Six years later, Georgia is not just a symbol of the apparent influence of Trump in the Republican Party, but rather a model for Democrats looking to capitalize on him.
Trump loses another Senate seat
Former President Donald Trump tried to use the 2022 midterm elections to fill majorities in Congress and state legislatures with allies who owed their jobs to Trump’s endorsement ahead of his third run for the White House. Instead, he endorsed a series of flawed and controversial candidates who lost races the GOP hoped to win. Walker joined a list Tuesday night that included Blake Masters in Arizona and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, as well as underdogs Kari Lake in Arizona, Tim Michels in Wisconsin, Tudor Dixon in Michigan and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania.
No Republican presidential candidate had lost Georgia since 1992. But with Trump up for re-election, the Democrats won the presidency in 2020 and the state’s two Senate seats in the 2021 runoff. Then, this year, they won again a seat in the Senate, defeating a candidate pushed into the race by the former president.
The losses have immediate implications: Trump has already launched his 2024 presidential bid. Every Trump-driven Republican loss is likely to anger donors, buoy potential rivals and erode Republican voters’ confidence in Trump’s political powerhouse. .
The blame game that began four weeks ago will continue after the loss of Walker, and is likely to amplify calls for the GOP to look elsewhere for leadership.
Governor Kemp could not convince the voters
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp kept his distance from Walker as he ran for re-election in this year’s rematch with Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams. The governor won 2.1 million votes, about 200,000 more than Walker won against Warnock in November.
After his victory, however, Kemp more fully embraced his party’s Senate nominee, despite the governor’s rivalry with Trump.
Kemp’s goal was to convince some of those tens of thousands of ticket takers to support the Republican candidate in the runoff. He appeared with Walker at rallies, cut TV commercials for the former University of Georgia football star and even lent the vote-mobilization operation that helped propel him to victory to a super PAC aligned with the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to boost Walker.
It was a stark contrast to the approach taken by Trump, who held a pro-Walker televised rally on election eve but did little else to help in the runoff. And if Walker had won, it would have been Kemp who deserved a large part of the credit.
However, the Georgia runoff proved to be a lesson that former President Barack Obama, and later Trump, had to learn: Voter support is often not transferable. And without Kemp on the ballot, many of the same suburban moderates who voted down Walker in November did so again in the runoff.