So, What's Going on with the Georgia Senate Races?

Op-ed

After arguably one of the more competitive and polarizing elections in the past few years took place in early November, Georgia's senate election sent both seated candidates into a runoff with their competitors. Democrat Jon Ossoff faces off against Senator David Perdue for one of the Georgia seats, and incumbent Kelly Loeffler competes with Reverend Raphael Warnock to continue in her own.

In November, the election went into runoff by a margin of 0.47% between Ossoff and Purdue, and this election doesn't look like it's going to get any less close.

Need-To-Knows About the Candidates

Ossoff and Warnock are currently fairing to tilt the senate into favoring the Democratic Party, as for the past election cycle the senate was Republican-dominated. Ossoff hopes to become the youngest senator to be elected in the past four decades, and his issues center on the implementation of stricter gun reform, upholding Roe v. Wade, and increasing Medicaid availability to rural Georgia populations.

Purdue lies in stark opposition: the current senior U.S. Senator running for reelection believes in removing many current gun control regulations and upholding the right to bear arms, overturning the Roe v. Wade decision, and protecting farmers through legislation rather than Medicaid or health-based initiatives.

Other pressing issues for the two candidates include policing and police reform, as well as climate change and renewable energy efforts.

Other newcomer, democrat Raphael Warnock, faces off against Loeffler, whose campaign strategy has consisted primarily of attacks on her opponent painting him as a radical anti-American preacher. Their positions largely mimic those of Ossoff and Purdue, respectively.

Image from PBS LiveCast

Why This Election is Important

The two runoff elections are a direct result of no candidates getting a majority vote on Election Day in November. As per Georgia state law, a candidate has to get at least a 50% majority to be seated in the senate.

The outcome of these two runoff elections will determine the Senate majority, which plays a large role in how the presidency and legislation over the course of the next term will play out. The result, playing out just a few weeks before President-elect Biden is inaugurated into office, will set the tone for the rest of his term and effectively determine if Biden will be able to push out his policy agenda.

Image from POLITICO Magazine

This year is a unique one for Georgia, politics-wise. Increased voter turnout in large cities saw the almost perpetually conservative-leaning Georgia go blue in the election, and while Purdue was believed to have a cinch on reelection, nobody was anticipating a double runoff.

Independent of the presidential result, a rush of 70,000 new voters in the state, a large majority including new 18-year-olds, may cause the slight shift in turnout that will end up playing a large role in this election. While it's not clear if the Democrats or the Republicans are gaining an edge with the new voter group, even minor gains on either side may be enough to tip the scales in favor of one party.

This means that youth is playing a much larger role in politics this year, especially in these runoff elections.

Overall, Georgia boasts more than 7 million registered voters.

Party Tactics: How They're Playing Out

Opposition tactics and opponent attack-ads have played a large role in this election. Warnock is targeted for his prominent religious affiliation by his opponent, and scandals surrounding an image of Loeffler with a member of the Klan prompted a large amount of scrutiny.

On the other front, allegations of insider trading on Purdue caused an onslaught of criticism, and even prompted Purdue to abandon the Senate debates. Attack ads directed at Ossoff labeled him as pushing a “socialist” agenda. Trump's calls of election illegitimacy are also playing a large role in trying to tilt the scales.

Image from 11Alive, Live on November 3rd, 2020

What many hadn't anticipated was the shift of Georgia from an almost assured red-leaning state to a purple battleground state. Experts anticipate the election results as too close to call. Nobody knows what's going to happen.

If you live in Georgia, it's encouraged to find your nearest voting center and to go out and vote. Historically, the turnout for elections where the presidential candidate isn't on the ballot is significantly lower. This can't be the case this year, especially because the shift in majority may determine entirely the effectivity of Biden's presidency. This election cycle isn't over until this runoff is over on January 5th.

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Riya Jayanthi

Riya Jayanthi is a current high school senior and a self-published author of two poetry collections on Amazon. When she's not writing, Riya has a love of travelling and making vegetarian food. She also loves film (the movie and photography kind), and she published her second collection "a novel proposition" on August 30th.