Five Reasons Why Tomorrow's Runoff in Georgia Is Important
Democrats will control the Senate no matter who wins the Georgia runoff tomorrow. Nevertheless, the runoff is very important for at least
- Manchin & Sinema: Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have blocked
most of Joe Biden's agenda for two years because their votes were essential. If Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) is reelected
tomorrow, the Democrats will have 51 seats in the new Senate and thus won't need the votes of both Manchin and
Sinema. If they can get one, and also the vote of President of the Senate Kamala Harris, they can get legislation
through the Senate unless the Republicans filibuster. Since both Manchin and Sinema oppose abolishing the filibuster,
the addition of Sen.-elect John Fetterman (D-PA) alone won't do the job here.
Nevertheless, a win by Warnock does mean something because although Manchin and Sinema are often obstreperous, they are
not twins. For example, Manchin is fine with raising taxes on the rich—something that can be done in a
reconciliation bill—but Sinema opposes this. Sinema, who represents Arizona, is a big fan of solar energy,
something Arizona has quite a bit of, and much less a fan of coal. This means that on some bills, Majority Leader Chuck
Schumer (D-NY) may be able to peel away one of them but not the other. If Warnock loses, this won't work. But keep in
mind, all bills, including reconciliation bills, will also have to pass the Republican-controlled House.
- Trump could lose again: Donald Trump has had a miserable election and the runoff could be
the capstone. Because there are no other elections or runoffs tomorrow, the cheese stands alone. The biggest story all
day Wednesday will be the runoff. If Herschel Walker loses, there will be hundreds of stories about how Trump is a
spent force. Any Republicans thinking of endorsing him are likely to hold off if Walker loses, especially if it is by a
lot. Trump can moo all he wants to about what a terrible candidate Walker is, but surely some people are going to ask:
"Why did you endorse such a terrible candidate?" A Walker loss will also strengthen the hand of Senate Minority Leader
Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who warned Trump about "candidate quality." A Walker loss also has implications for
Trump-endorsed candidates in 2024. It's not hard to imagine some Republican running in a 2024 primary with the slogan:
"Don't vote for the guy Trump endorsed—they always lose to the Democrats."
- Senate committees: If Warnock wins, the Democrats will have an absolute majority on every
Senate committee. If Walker wins, the committees are split evenly. Given that the Republicans will control the House,
Democratic control of the Senate will be a counterweight. With Democratic control, judges can be confirmed quickly,
chairs can issue subpoenas at will, and much more. The House and Senate committees are important and control of them is
a huge advantage.
- 2024 Map: The 2024 Senate map is a disaster for the Democrats. There are numerous
vulnerable Democrats and no vulnerable Republicans. Incumbents usually have an advantage, but having a 1-seat cushion is
better than no cushion at all.
- Whither Georgia?: Is Georgia really a purple state? A Warnock win will show how
competitive the state is. Remember that Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) won easily, so Republicans are still strong in Georgia,
but how strong?
Also, a Warnock win will be a morale booster for Democrats. When someone says: "You lost the House" the reply
could be: "Yes, but we gained a seat in the Senate."
Of course, a contest between a respected sitting senator and an absolutely awful candidate with no experience at
anything except running really fast while carrying a football is the Democrats' dream situation. Even a Warnock blowout
win shouldn't be interpreted as "Georgia is now a blue state." (V)
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