Dem 50
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Ties 1
GOP 49
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Outlook for the Georgia Runoff

Do we know what will happen in Georgia? Nope. Nobody does, although there are sure to be many polls. One thing that could make a difference in Georgia is the Nevada result. Now that the Georgia runoff will not affect control of the Senate, that could reverberate. Specifically, what we are thinking is that Herschel Walker is a very deeply flawed candidate who doesn't belong anywhere near the Senate except in the visitors' gallery. There are probably thousands of Georgians who know that very well but who voted for him anyway because they want Mitch McConnell to be Senate Majority Leader again. Now that a vote for Walker in the runoff does not help McConnell become majority leader, some of those people may decide there is no point in voting and skip the runoff. A depressed turnout of a few thousand votes could make the difference between a Sen. Warnock and a Sen. Walker.

For the Democrats, the situation is very different because 51 > 50. Actually, it's more like 51 >> 50. First, with an evenly divided Senate there is a power-sharing arrangement (e.g., equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans on all committees). With a clear majority, the Democrats don't have to share power with the Republicans (e.g., a majority on each committee). Having a majority on each committee makes it much easier to get bills and confirmations through.

Second, the pressure on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to begin acting like an actual Democrat will be enormous. If she has looked at the election returns in Arizona, she will see that other Democrats can win elections in Arizona. It's not her special magical powers that do the job. The state has become purple. Thus, when Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and possibly other Democrats begin making noises about challenging her in 2024 (and maybe even announcing runs), she knows that every vote against the party line will be featured in their primary ads. This may make her less inclined to block the Democrats on major bills.

If Sinema starts voting with the Democrats most of the time, that changes the situation around Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). His vote will no longer be needed. Thus he and Chuck Schumer can make a deal in which Manchin gets to vote against the Democrats on everything and also loudly diss Schumer as a bad leader. This play acting would be designed to help him get reelected in deep red West Virginia in 2024. His pitch could be: "I voted against Biden 75% of the time but due to my seniority, I can bring home the bacon. A Republican senator would vote against Biden 100% of the time but couldn't bring home any bacon at all due to lack of seniority." If Manchin made this pitch at the dedication of the Joe Manchin Senior Center in Charleston, the Joe Manchin Sports Complex in Huntington, and the Joe Manchin High School in Morgantown, people might get the message and he might be able to be reelected in a tough state, possibly against billionaire Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV).

Finally, the 2024 Senate map is awful for the Democrats. Not only are Manchin and Sinema up, but also Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Jon Tester (D-MT). Having 51 seats instead of 50 means the Democrats can lose one seat and still have 50. If they win the vice presidency, that means they will still control the Senate. If they lose the vice presidency but have 50 seats, they can demand a power-sharing arrangement. Thus, we think Democrats might be more motivated to vote in the Georgia runoff than Republicans—and this is before any Trump-is-a-candidate effects might kick in.

However, voter motivation may end up being less important than the mechanics of voting. After the 2021 runoff, the Republican-controlled state legislature moved the runoff up by a month and greatly reduced the number of days for early voting, knowing full well that Democrats tend to vote early and Republicans don't. Also, after the 2020 election, Democrats furiously worked to register new voters.That is impossible now since the voter-registration deadline passed on Nov. 2. People already registered can request absentee ballots up to Nov. 28, though. (V)

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