November 11, 2020

Georgia Senate Runoffs

Editor's Note: Happy Veterans Day to our military and their families, who sacrifice so much to keep our country safe and strong. Thank you for your service!

“Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff will face off in a Jan. 5 runoff in Georgia for Perdue’s Senate seat… Democrat Raphael Warnock and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the Republican appointed last year after Sen. Johnny Isakson retired, will also compete in a runoff on the same day. The twin races in Georgia are likely to settle which party controls the Senate.” AP News

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From the Left

The left is hopeful about Ossoff and Warnock’s chances.

“The [Democratic] party could still win that Senate majority, but it probably needs an unlikely sweep in Georgia. A state that last elected a Democratic U.S. senator in 2000 would need to decide to elect two Democrats at the same time…

“So what happened to Democrats’ seemingly good Senate prospects? At root, it looks like the overall national political environment will end up being Democratic-leaning but not overwhelmingly so — votes are still being counted, so it’s hard to put an exact number on this yet. The Senate’s structure gives it a Republican bias — the median seat is 6-7 percentage points more GOP-leaning than the nation, so Democrats need to really overperform nationally to win the chamber. And while the party did well in 2020, it looks it didn’t quite clear that bar.”
Perry Bacon Jr, FiveThirtyEight

“Democrats have struggled to turn out Black voters in earlier Senate runoffs in Georgia, though they are optimistic that the presence of the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is African American, in one of the contests, and the robust get-out-the-vote machinery built by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, will largely rectify that problem… Win or lose, the fact that Democrats must sweep the two Georgia Senate seats to reach even a 50-50 Senate split after an election that Biden will probably win by well over 5 million in the national popular vote underscores the long-term squeeze Democrats face in the body…

“To [Brian Fallon, a former Democratic Senate leadership aide who's a founder of the group Demand Justice], the Georgia challenge underscores the need for Democrats to focus on the structural obstacles the Senate presents them. When the party next has unified control of government, he says, it must prioritize adding the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico as states… Like other liberal activists, he argues that's the only way to begin addressing the rural imbalance that means Democratic senators next year will represent a clear majority of the population (assigning half of each state's population to each senator), but possibly still not control the majority in the chamber.”
Ronald Brownstein, CNN

“If Democrats win both of these seats (or score an upset in other uncalled races), and Biden prevails, they would control [the] chamber. But their majority would be razor thin, with 50-50 ties broken by a Vice President Kamala D. Harris. [Joe] Manchin, the most moderate member of the Senate, would be the key swing vote. If he refused to sign off on any piece of major legislation, Democrats would need to woo moderate Republicans, such as Maine’s Susan Collins or Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski. Democrats would still be able to govern, but progressive dreams would evaporate…

“And if Republicans disrupt any part of the Democratic Senate map — for example, by taking one or both Georgia seats — gridlock would reign supreme. A President Biden might be able to get Collins or Murkowski to sign off on some initiatives, but Murkowski would have a strong incentive to oppose him to ward off a primary challenge in 2022…

“In short, Georgians have a chance to determine the character of the Senate for at least the next two years. If they choose the Democrats, they’ll get a moderate-dominated, center-left government. If they choose Republicans, they’ll get Biden’s best attempt at a center-right compromise coalition. The 2020 election is not through with us yet.”
David Byler, Washington Post

Let's consider what is likely to happen over the next two months. The coronavirus pandemic is raging out of control in almost every state, Georgia included. Thursday saw over 116,000 new confirmed infections, hospitalizations are skyrocketing, and deaths (as always a lagging indicator) have been rising for weeks. The hospitals in some locations are already stuffed to capacity. Meanwhile, the economic recovery has been gradually stalling out. Each monthly jobs report since June has seen a decline in the number of new jobs, and we are not even close to replacing all the jobs that were lost in the depths of the first wave in March and April…

“At an absolute bare minimum, America is crying out for another major rescue package to tide us all over… I therefore suggest that Democrats develop their own rescue package, which every upcoming member of Congress, and both of the Georgia Democratic challengers, will promise publicly to pass on day one of the next Congress. Such a concrete offer might just drive enough liberal turnout to match what appears to be an extremely narrow Biden win at the presidential level in Georgia. Vote Democrat, and get $1,200 simoleons directly into the pockets of each and every Georgia voter, plus other nice goodies. It's just crazy enough to work.”
Ryan Cooper, The Week

From the Right

The right is optimistic about Perdue and Loeffler’s chances.

The right is optimistic about Perdue and Loeffler’s chances.

Republicans have won every statewide runoff vote in [Georgia’s] history, an unbroken string that started in 1992… Watch Republicans motivate their base to turn out by pointing out that Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock would give House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Biden the ability to push through a radical agenda… It probably did not help the Dems’ cause in Georgia that Schumer was out Saturday saying that if they win the Georgia seats, they will ‘change America.’…

“Georgia is certainly more competitive than it has been due to demographic changes and a drop-off in suburban women supporting Republicans. But it is easy to exaggerate the change. Georgia Democrats spent tens of millions of dollars to take control of one or more houses of the state legislature, hoping to exercise influence in next year’s redistricting process. Their effort failed. So far, Democrats have gained only one new seat in the Republican-controlled House — far short of the 16 seats needed to flip the chamber.”
John Fund, National Review

“The Republicans in Georgia are currently feuding and not very united… Republican leaders are squabbling and fighting with the Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger. They are blaming him for the chaos, though elections in Georgia are conducted at the local level…

“Expect Senator McConnell to exercise his clout behind the scenes to get everyone on the same page. The Senate races will decide the fate of the Senate and whether Schumer or McConnell is the Senate leader. The GOP has a better infrastructure in Georgia, but both Governor Brian Kemp and the would-be governor, Stacey Abrams, will be using the ground game fight as an advance run for 2022. Nationwide, expect Democrats to pour money and manpower into Georgia. The GOP better step up too. The race is entirely winnable by the Republicans.”
Erick Erickson, Substack

“Consider the Democrats poised to run key committees if they organize the Senate. Bernie Sanders would run Budget, which means a squeeze on the Pentagon. Sherrod Brown of Ohio would run Banking, and Ms. Warren would run the financial institutions subcommittee. Have fun, bankers. Oregon’s Ron Wyden would run Finance. He supports the $4 trillion Biden tax increase plus he wants to tax even unrealized capital gains as ordinary income. That means taxing the appreciation in the value of assets even if they aren’t sold during the year…

“Some business folks think nothing like this could happen in a 50-50 Senate. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin would supposedly save the day, or Joe Biden would intervene. Don’t count on it. Mr. Manchin is a reliable Democratic vote on every big issue when it really matters, and Mr. Biden will be under pressure from progressives (and Ms. Harris) to achieve their goals… All of this should be front-and-center for voters in the Georgia runoffs. The suburban Atlanta Republicans and independents who voted for Mr. Biden to oust Donald Trump are likely to support a GOP Senate as a check on Mr. Biden’s left wing if they know the stakes.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“If Sens. David Perdue or Kelly Loeffler win reelection in Georgia on Jan. 5, the most powerful woman in Washington, if not the world, will be Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican senator from Maine. The moderate Mainer would be the swing vote on the most divisive of Joe Biden's priorities, meaning she could block unacceptable Cabinet appointees, judicial nominations, and bills passed with reconciliation. If Perdue and Loeffler lose, Kamala Harris becomes the swing vote.”
Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner

“Far from damaging his party at the polls, Trump staved off the promised ‘blue wave.’ Republicans kept the Senate (for now) and gained seats in the House. And Trump lost the presidency by a small number of votes in a handful of states… That means the 2024 Republican nomination is Trump’s if he wants it. He has the most loyal base of any president in modern history and an army of 71 million voters. No sane Republican would challenge him. But if Trump wants to make another run at the White House, how he handles the next few months will be decisive…

“Before leaving the White House, he has one last job to do: He must save the Republican Senate majority… He needs to hold rallies for Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, and campaign for them like he did in the final days of the November election… If Democrats win in Georgia, it will be seen as a final repudiation of Trumpism. But if Trump can lead the effort to hold the Senate in Georgia, he will leave office with a major victory — and perhaps launch the first salvo of his 2024 campaign.”
Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post

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