This is due to an exception in the state’s electoral law, which requires that winning candidates for state-wide positions in general elections does not only allow you to get more votes than anyone else but also to receive fifty percent of all votes cast.
In the last four years, candidates from both sides have failed to meet that standard twice. Therefore, a run-off election is required in 2021 to elect both Georgia’s US Senate members and another one.
The incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock is a southern Baptist preacher who hails from Dr Martin Luther King Jr.’s old Atlanta church. He will be facing Herschel Walker, a Republican ex-football star and man backed in part by Donald Trump. Walker has been accused of paying for women and girlfriends to have abortions despite his stance being deeply anti-abortion.
They will face off to represent a state that has been the epicenter of political turmoil in recent years.
The midterm elections had already determined 99 of 100 Senate seats. Democrats hold 49 to 50. Georgia’s runoff won’t change the fact that the Constitution allows the vice-president to break a tie vote in the chamber.
You might be asking, “Why is Georgia’s runoff important?” At its most basic, 51 senators are better than 50.
This means that you can lose one supporter for a difficult issue, and still get your way. This will be a factor for senators Joe Manchin (a conservative-minded Democrat who hails from West Virginia, a Republican state) who are up for election in 2024.
Senator Manchin already demonstrated how much he has in legislative negotiations in Congress. To defend his seat in 2024, however, he will need to show his conservative-minded constituents that he is not a Joe Biden groupie.
51 senators gives you more control over the workings of the chamber’s committee structures. You can also get more control over one of the Senate’s most important jobs, which is to approve the nominations of federal judges. This is a deeply political process in a deeply politically charged country.
This means that, even though the major motivating factor, Senate Control, has been decided, the parties continue to pour tens of million of dollars into the race, and television advertising is at fever pitch.
There is a direct correlation in the tightness of race and the viciousness advertising.
They are separated by a mere percentage point or two. Every vote counts. Both sides have been fighting it out on the airwaves and spent an estimated $70m (PS57m). Both sides have taken aim at each other’s personal and professional lives.
The Walker camp screened clips that allegedly showed Raphael Warnock’s exwife crying after a domestic dispute. They accuse him of running a camp for young people with disabilities where urine was thrown at them and being in charge apartments for the poorer, “full of human waste and even rotting bodies”.
His ads against Herschel Walker have been criticized by the Warnock camp as he “wears lies like a badge o honour”. They claim that he lied about his education and charitable giving. There was also an odd episode in which a former football star claimed he worked in law enforcement, when in fact he hadn’t.
Walker has been reprimanded by action committees and political surrogates as well as Associated Political Surrogates for allegedly abusing women and hypocrisy regarding abortion. It’s amazing that he is still so close to the top in this race, given all the negative stories. It is a sign of how tribal these races can be to have supporters who can stand by him.
If you take a look at the numbers, however, there are troubling signs for Walker. On 8 November, he was the only Republican to run state-wide and not to receive more than fifty percent. This means that a significant number of Republicans chose to not support him.
After Geoff Duncan, the outgoing Republican Lieutenant Governor, announced publicly that he had waited for over an hour to vote in early voting and couldn’t bear to vote for Mr Walker at the poll box.
Raphael Warnock can’t rest on his laurels. John Ossoff, a fellow Democrat, may have won their runoffs in the beginning of 2021. However, these victories buck the historical trend that has seen Republicans increase their vote in a majority run-offs since 1960s Georgia. Analysis by Five Thirty Eight shows this.
However, Mr Walker may find it more difficult to persuade other Republicans to vote this time. He may also have not done himself any favors by taking five days off during Thanksgiving to make the final push.
He has struggled to get big-name hitters to support him. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is one example. Raphael Warnock, however, has been able to get former President Barack Obama out of his shadow. Michelle Obama was also featured in the campaign ads.
Donald Trump is a vocal supporter of Mr Walker and even mentioned him in the Mar-a-Lago presidential campaign announcement. However, Trump has not traveled to support Mr Walker in person. Many will examine the final numbers to determine what message they could have for his prospects of a presidential run.
The most important thing is that Georgians can breathe a sigh and enjoy the fact that they won’t need to fill out ballot forms, wait in line, or endure the endless, pugilistic politics of the Peach State for nearly two years.