It seems so long ago that a large portion of the country was obsessing over two Senate runoff races in Georgia that would determine control of Congress during Joe Biden’s first two years. But there are certainly things that both Democrats and Republicans can learn from the races.
Georgia is a Purple State.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton supposedly stood a chance in states like Arizona, Iowa, or even Texas that came, in large part, with large margins for Republican victories. At the time, because of changing demographics within the United States, some debated whether we would ever see another Republican president again. As we know now, that was very mistaken.
But Joe Biden winning Georgia by under twenty thousand votes in a state with over four million voters could be seen as a fluke, similar to Obama’s win in Indiana in 2008, that wouldn’t lead to any substantive change. Before last Tuesday, there was significant doubt that, given the failure of polling during the general election, Democrats could even stand a chance.
However, after delivering, for the first time in over two decades, two Democratic Senators, Georgia’s many voter registration and liberal organizations, led by Stacey Abrams, can now be called a success. That’s significant.
Although we have seen states temporarily switch blue, similar to North Carolina in the early Obama years, the underlying demographics in Georgia don’t seem to be changing anytime soon; it’s likely that Georgia will keep shifting more and more to the left, possibly becoming a stronghold in the South.
Donald Trump Screwed the Republicans.
Although straight-ticket voting is fairly common in states with two side-by-side statewide races, it almost didn’t culminate in a Democratic victory. In November, Senator David Perdue only fell 0.3 percentage points under the required fifty percent to avoid a runoff even while Joe Biden carried the state. Dislike for Donald Trump certainly played a major result in that outcome.
Even more significantly, however, Trump insulted Georgian election officials, which could’ve dented Republican turnout last week, and his requests for a larger stimulus bill likely divided the party further. Both probably played a role in giving Democrats an unprecedented two-point lead in a Southern state.
Statistically, Republican’s performance in the Georgia runoffs were an anomaly. Outgoing presidents and their parties typically see a rise in approval, and a majority of Americans wished for the Republican party to control at least one chamber in congress. In other words, all the signs pointed to a Republican victory in a former Republican stronghold.
It’s a sign that Republicans should reconsider their relationship with the now soon-to-be President Trump.
African-American Turnout Gave Democrats the Win.
Since the 2018 Gubernatorial Race, during which Stacey Abrams nearly broke the Democrats’ statewide drought in election victories, Democrats were clamoring for a rematch; because of Stacey Abram’s efforts to bring out African-Americans and liberalize the Atlanta suburbs, they overcame a deficit of over five points since 2016.
It’s why there’s no denying it: Democrats won because of African-American turnout.
Obviously, the prospect of having the first initially elected African-American Senator from a former confederate state served a significant motivation, but Joe Biden winning the state showed Georgians that change was possible. And they delivered.
Democrats Can Compete in Red States.
There simply aren’t that many statewide Democrats that can genuinely compete in deep Red states. Many, such as Governor Beshear in Kentucky and Governor Laura Kelly in Kansas, followed incredibly unpopular candidates and chances are that they will have trouble getting re-elected. Even Democrats in states like West Virginia and Louisiana have to abandon their party on issues like abortion and climate change. But Georgia presents an alternative.
A decade ago, Democrats lost Georgia by almost fifteen points in a Senate race; in politics, double-digit wins don’t signal any upcoming change. But it happened.
By reaching out to young voters through Snapchat and TikTok and organizing in underserved communities, Democrats gave low-turnout demographics the opportunity to call for change. That’s something are country has trouble doing. In states like North Carolina and Georgia with large metropolitan areas, Democrats have now crafted a model to bring out minority voters and give themselves the opportunity to change longstanding Republican control. Who knows where that could lead?
2022 Will Be Brutal.
While Democrats control the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, they missed huge opportunities to retake governorships or state legislatures; in a typical race, these wouldn’t matter as much. However, every ten years, state legislatures around the country come together to gerrymander congressional maps, ensuring that their parties should have control of the legislative map for at least the next half-decade. Only in a handful of states will an independent commission or a divided government draw the maps.
In a country with a large percentage of state legislatures held by Republicans, that’s not a good sign for Democrats looking to maintain their control, not even to mention the abysmal statistic that the party in control of the White House loses dozens of seats during midterm elections.
What does that mean, exactly? Joe Biden and congressional Democrats have to focus on accomplishing as much as they can within the next two years. If they lose either chamber of Congress, it will likely spell the end of any significant legislative success Biden has, as it did to both Obama and Trump.
Long story short, while Democrats control the government for the time being, it’s likely that control won’t last. They should be preparing to be the minority a couple years down the line.