Democrats Win Both Georgia Senate Races, Granting Them Control Of the Senate

From+left+to+right%3A+Kelly+Loeffler%2C+Raphael+Warnock%2C+David+Perdue%2C+Jon+Ossoff.

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From left to right: Kelly Loeffler, Raphael Warnock, David Perdue, Jon Ossoff.

Sophia Zhang

For the first time in eleven years, Democrats have full control over the federal government. They flipped two seats in the Senate this Wednesday with a pair of slim victories in the Georgia runoff elections. 

Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock defeated Republican Kelly Loeffler by 1.4 percentage points while Democrat Jon Ossoff defeated Republican David Perdue by 0.8 percentage points.

Both Democrats now lead their defeated Republican opponents by margins greater than the 0.5 percentage-point threshold required to trigger a recount under Georgia law.

Ossoff will be the youngest newly elected Democratic senator since Joe Biden in 1973. Warnock will be the first African American Democratic senator from a former Confederate state. The two are the first Democrats elected to the Senate from Georgia in 20 years.

This win guaranteed Democrats the Senate majority and thus control of the Senate. Democrats now have a 50-50 seat split with Republicans in the Senate, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris poised to cast tie-breaking votes. With a Democratic Senate and President, Democrats have control over the committees, legislation, and nominations brought to the floor.

The Atlantic predicted that Democrats will first pass a relief package to address the coronavirus pandemic before attempting to fundamentally change how voting works in the United States through expanding voting rights, reducing the influence of money in politics, strengthening ethics rules, and perhaps even ending the Senate filibuster.

Democrats believe that these reforms will make America’s democracy work better and the rest of their agenda easier to carry out. It is a setup to help them push for more important and divisive issues such as police reform, health care, and global warming.

This Democratic Senate also gives a greater possibility for President-elect Joe Biden to prevail on cabinet member nominations and more, potentially even Supreme Court Justice nominations.

These changes all have nationwide consequences.

However, the Democrats are rushed for time. The last few times a party went into the midterms with control over both the Senate and the presidency, they lost the Senate in the midterms. It is very likely this pattern will repeat for the next midterm, especially since Democrats only barely have the Senate majority. 

In the end, while it is very unlikely that any broad sweeping legislation that will advance the Democratic agenda by leaps and bounds will be passed, there will undoubtedly be small and important advances that would otherwise have been stopped with a Republican Senate.