Things That Matter

The Georgia Senate Races Are Two Of The Most Important In Modern History And Here’s Why

With a runoff election just weeks away that could tip the balance of the U.S. Senate, many people across the United States have Georgia on their minds. And it’s obvious why: the stakes are high.

What happens in January’s dual senate runoff in the state, will directly impact how much of a progressive agenda a President Joe Biden can get through Congress.

Adding to the important dynamic, is the pivotal part that voters of color, in particular Black women, are playing in the races. From grassroots organizing to being members of a key voting bloc that helped lift Democrats to the White House in November, Black, Brow, and Native voters are working hard to turn out the vote.

Georgia’s two senate run off races are two of the most important races in modern history.

Although Georgia went blue for the first time since 1992 by voting for Joe Biden for president, the fight for Georgia is far from over.

This January, there will be two critical U.S. Senate runoff elections, one between Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff, and the other between Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock. The elections will not only decide the state’s representation, but also which political party will have a majority in the U.S. Senate, which could dramatically alter Biden’s upcoming administration.

If we want to see criminal justice reform, compassionate immigration policy, a permanent DACA program, a fairer economy that works for all Americans, and a common sense, science-based approach to the Coroanvirus pandemic – among so much else – what happens in Georgia is critical.

Here’s why the race is so critical for a Democratic agenda to have any chance of becoming reality.

Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

As it stands, following the 2020 election, the new U.S. Senate will consist of 46 Democrats, two independents who caucus with Democrats, 50 Republicans, and then whoever wins these two races in Georgia.

If Democrats win both races, they will have a majority in the Senate (the Senate tie breaker is the Vice President, or in this case, Kamala Harris), giving Biden increased power to pass legislation and move forward on his policy agenda. Otherwise, if even one of the Republican candidates wins in January, the GOP will have majority control.

As the Times reports: “With judicial nominees, a stimulus deal, infrastructure and health care measures, and tax and spending policies all on the line, the Senate races in Georgia are likely to take on an intensity that mirrors the presidential race that just ended.”

What are the issues candidates are talking about?

Although much is said about the elections impact on the Senate and Biden’s presidency, the candidates are also talking issues that affect Georgians.

Joe Ossoff is highlighting Sen. Perdue’s highly questionable stock trades in which the senator seemed to financially benefit from the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, the Daily Beast recently reported that Perdue invested in a company called BWX Technologies that manufactured Navy submarine parts right around the time he became head of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower. Ossoff has also hammered hard on Perdue’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act, and the larger issue of the need for financial relief for those made newly unemployed by the pandemic.

As for Loeffler, reportedly the wealthiest person in the Senate, she too has made some questionable trades. According to published reports, Loeffler and her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, who is the CEO of a company that owns the New York Stock Exchange, reportedly sold $20 million in shares after she attended a closed-door Senate briefing on the coronavirus in January, while also making investments in companies that may benefit from the pandemic.

Do the two Democrats have a chance to flip the Senate?

Credit: ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images

It’s been 24 years since Georgia last sent a Democrat to the Senate, so it would appear that it’s a steep slope in achieving a double win come January. But notably, the last time the state voted for a Democratic candidate for president was in Bill Clinton’s first race in 1992—and Joe Biden changed that this year.

Can Ossoff and Warnock do the same? Recent polls show that both races are essentially even, with Warnock one point ahead of Loeffler, 49 to 48%, and Ossoff and Perdue tied at 49%. But as we know from the recent presidential elections, polls have become notoriously unreliable.

Black and Brown voters – especially women – will likely hold the key to Democratic wins.

Georgia owes it’s history-making switch to blue in part to a large and well-organized coalition of Black voters, especially Black women. Black voters were essential to Biden’s win: of the 160 million people who voted in the recent presidential election, exit polls show nearly 50 percent of registered Black women voters cast ballots. At least 90 percent voted for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-president elect Kamala Harris. 

The shift was thanks, in part, to the tireless work of Black organizers—women like Stacey Abrams and Fair Fight, LaTosha Brown and Black Voters Matter, and Nse Ufot and The New Georgia Project—who registered, educated, and mobilized voters.

If you’re looking for ways to help – even from outside of Georgia – there’s so much you can do.

Even if you don’t live in Georgia, you can still assist from afar. One way is to phone or text bank for the Democratic challengers. Find a handful of upcoming events here and here.

Besides donating straight to the candidates’ campaigns, there are a number of organizations working to get out and protect the vote this January.

  • Fair Fight is a national voting rights organization that promotes fair elections and encourages voter participation and education.
  • The New Georgia Project has both a donation page and an Amazon wish list for its volunteers.
  • Black Voters Matter works to expand Black voter engagement through voter registration, policy advocacy, and more.

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