Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, DC shares his perspective on US politics.
What does the Democratic win in the Georgia Senate race mean?
There are two major implications from Senator Raphael Warnock's victory last night in the Georgia Senate runoff. The first is that it ends the longest running tied Senate in American history and gives Democrats 51 seats and outright control of Senate committees that can be used to conduct oversight. This probably means more uncomfortable hearings for titans of industry next year and while the House will focus their oversight activities on the Biden administration, the Senate is going to be calling in bank CEOs and representatives of concentrated industries to talk about corporate profits and inflation.
The second is that this is yet another bad election outcome for former President Trump, who handpicked the Republican nominee, Herschel Walker, who is a first-time political candidate and not a very good one. Walker massively underperformed his fellow Republican, Governor Brian Kemp in both the general election and the runoff, and had a less controversial or more seasoned politician been the nominee, Republicans could have potentially kept or won back this seat.
This is the second runoff election in Georgia in a row that Republicans blame former President Trump for losing and it feeds into the narrative that Georgia, which President Biden won in 2020, is now a swing state, meaning that it will be one of the most hotly contested battlegrounds along with Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Wisconsin in 2024.
Republicans control the other statewide offices in Georgia however and this race, despite Walker's flaws was close. So a key question is if Georgia is the next North Carolina, a state that tempts Democrats after President Obama won it in 2008, but one that they can't consistently win because of its structurally conservative lean.
One interesting fact about the 2022 midterms is that they were the first midterm election since 1934 where no incumbent Senator lost reelection, showing the power of incumbency even in narrowly divided and hard-fought elections.
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