Updated: Dec 26, 2022
The 2022 midterm elections have come and gone, well except for in Georgia. Voters in the Peach State will head to the polls one more time on Tuesday, Dec. 6 to decide their U.S. Senate runoff election.
This Senate race is between Republican Herschel Walker and incumbent U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, the Democratic nominee. In Georgia, if no candidate wins with 50% of the vote, there is then a runoff election four weeks later.
The results from Election Day saw Walker earn 48.5% of the vote, Warnock earn 49.4% of the vote and Libertarian Chase Oliver earn 2.1% of the vote. Rules for the runoff stop Oliver from being on Tuesday’s ballot, as the top two vote-getters are who advance to this election.
This is the second election cycle in a row where all eyes are on a runoff race for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat. In 2020, both seats were on the ballot and headed to a runoff. The other seat was up for election because then-Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) finished his six-year term and was seeking another term. Perdue lost his race to then-Democratic nominee John Ossoff by 55,000 votes.
Warnock’s seat was also up for grabs in the 2020 election and 2021 runoffs. The late U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) resigned in late 2019 due to health issues. The seat was up for election this year since the 2020 race was only a special election to serve out the rest of Isakson’s term. These two races secured Democrats a majority in a tied 50-50 Senate since Vice President Kamala Harris can break any ties.
Currently, Democrats have a net gain of one seat, already bringing them to where they were prior to the 2022 elections. The reason why they’re already at 50 seats is because they retained all their seats up for election and Senator-elect John Fetterman (D-PA) defeated Republican nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania’s open Senate race. That seat was held by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, who is an alumnus of La Salle Academy.
This is seen as a competitive race due to political trends changing in the state, warranting both parties to put all their poker chips on the table. Recent election cycles saw the state go from ruby red to more of a battleground for both Republicans and Democrats.
President Joe Biden won the state versus former President Donald Trump by 12,670 votes. That marked the first time a Democrat earned Georgia’s electoral votes since 1992, when then-Democratic Governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton won over then-President George H. W. Bush. In 2018, Republicans narrowly kept the governor’s mansion.
Both of the major parties have their reasons as to why they’re going all in on ensuring they are victorious Tuesday. For the Democrats, it gives them one more seat to solidify that they have a 51-seat majority, which means they can afford to lost a vote from the more moderate Senators such as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). A 51-seat majority also gives Senate Democrats the chance to pick committee assignments as they please without having to make sure it is half Democrat and half Republican. The extra vote also provides them with a cushion when it comes to judicial nominees.
Further down the road, Democrats also face a tough 2024 Senate map. For instance, Democrats who hold seats in states Trump won in 2016 and 2020 are up for reelection such as Manchin, U.S. Sen. John Tester (D-MT), Sinema, and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Then there are the battleground states such as Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that become closer during presidential election years.
For Republicans, it would be a chance to flip what was once a reliably red state back to their column. The next Senate election in Georgia wouldn’t come until 2026, when Ossoff’s seat is on the ballot. Whoever wins between Warnock and Walker would serve until the 2028 election. Having the extra seat would aid the GOP’s goal in preventing policy goals Democrats have such as statehood for Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, adding more seats to the Supreme Court and abolishing the filibuster. It also forces committee assignments to be even between both parties and gives them a leg up in 2024.
The aforementioned reasons combined with Georgia’s recent electoral history ensures pundits and elected officials will be watching Tuesday’s results closely.