On Nov. 3, eligible Georgia residents voted for the state’s two senatorial positions. Although each election had a winner, neither candidate pulled more than 50% of the votes, qualifying both elections for a runoff under state law. Both Democratic challengers, Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock, defeated Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in a tight race on Jan. 6.
Although Ossoff and Warnock —the first Democratic Georgia senators since 2000— won by slim margins, the elections’ outcomes will have monumental effects. The Senate is now evenly split, with 50 Republicans along with 48 Democrats and two Independents caucusing with the Democratic Party. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be the tie-breaker vote in the event of a 50-50 split, tearing the Senate majority away from the Republicans and placing it in Democrat hands for the first time in six years.
Additionally, the Democratic Party maintained their majority in the House of Representatives through the 2020 election. In recent years, because the two Congressional chambers were held by opposing political parties and legislation must be approved by both, bills were often gridlocked within legislative chambers. Now that the Democrats hold both majorities, the party is more likely to have their proposed legislations approved. The Senate also has the power to confirm or deny the appointment of high-ranking government officials such as Supreme Court Justices, allowing the party in power to admit supportive members.
As the Democrats gain the Legislative branch, the Republicans continue to suffer. Not only does the party lose influence, but President Trump becomes the first sitting president to lose his second term, the House of Representatives, and the Senate in one fell swoop since President Herbert Hoover in 1932.
This is a great loss for the Republicans but a major victory for the rival party. The newly elected senators are sure to help President-elect Joe Biden carry out his Democratic agenda as well as bring new perspectives to the Senate floor.
Warnock’s victory against Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler will make him the first Southern Black Democrat to hold a Senate position.
Warnock has been in many leadership roles such as those in Birmingham, Baltimore, and New York churches. The Reverend is inspired by the historical civil rights activist Georgia-born Martin Luther King Jr. and has followed in his footsteps by attending the same college, Morehouse College, and leading the Ebenezer Baptist Church at age 35 —making Warnock the church’s youngest pastor.
At age 33, Ossoff will become the youngest elected Democratic senator since Biden and the first Jewish senator from Georgia. Ossoff is a media executive, investigative journalist, as well as a small business owner. Since 2013, Ossoff has served as the CEO of Insight TWI, a media production company that investigates corruption, organized crime, and war crimes for international news organizations.
Before embarking on this successful path, Ossoff served as a national security aide for Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson, handling defense, intelligence, economic policy, and foreign affairs. Although he lost by a narrow 3%, in 2017, Ossoff was the Democratic nominee in the Special Election for Georgia’s Sixth District which transformed into the largest Congressional race in US history.
Georgia Democrats had some of the highest early voter turnout rates, but the state’s Republicans on the other hand had some of the lowest, according to the New York Times. 70% of Republicans believe that the entire 2020 election was unfair, according to Politico, which largely affected their electoral enthusiasm. The dedication from much of the Democratic Party complimented by the lack of inspiration by many Conservatives in this runoff election helped push Ossoff and Warnock into office and bring the first Democratic Senate majority since 2014.