The midterms are just about settled. The exception is in Georgia, where the race for a Senate seat is headed for a run-off since either candidate surpassed the 50% threshold needed to win outright.
The run-off is important. Democrats hold 50 seats in the Senate currently. If Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock wins re-election, Democrats will have a 51-seat majority. If Republican candidate Herschel Walker wins, Republicans can even things out at 50-50.
The Senate was split 50-50 throughout Biden’s first two years in office. The split proved frustrating for Democrats, whose legislative agenda was regularly thwarted – by Democrats. West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kristin Sinema regularly voted against Democrat-backed legislation, making the party’s majority, secured by Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote, irrelevant in many cases. So really, the Georgia race, in many respects, is about Manchin and Sinema. Will Democrats have to rely on them further? Or can the pair be de-emphasized with the addition of another Democratic senator? With that context in mind, all eyes are on Georgia.
A new poll, taken by the AARP, is the first public survey taken since the midterms earlier this month. The results show a race holding within the margin of error: Raphael Warnock grabbed 51 percent of the vote; Herschel Walker grabbed 47 percent.
According to POLITICO, “Warnock has a commanding lead of 54% to 39% over Walker among independent voters – an important bloc that once reliably voted for Republicans in Georgia.” Another important note is the removal of a third-party candidate – a Libertarian –from the race. This could favor Republicans Still, Democratic candidate Warnock shows a slight lead, which is consistent with how Warnock and Walker finished in the midterm’s general election: Warnock edged out Walker by about a percentage point, even though he failed to reach 50%.
Warnock had the benefit of running against a weak opponent. Walker, a Georgia football legend, has had a tough go of things in the political arena. Dave Chapelle called Walker “observably stupid.” Walker said something similar, describing himself as not smart. Walker has indeed suffered through a series of gaffes and verbal debacles. But more damaging, Walker’s campaign has been marred by scandal. Walker, who ran on a pro-life platform, was credibly accused by two separate women claiming Walker encouraged them to have an abortion and paid for the procedure. That level of hypocrisy is pretty steep – even for a politician.
Both parties are spending impressive amounts of resources on the Georgia race. AdImpact, a firm that tracks media spending, reports that Democrats have dumped a remarkable $20 million into radio and television advertisements, singularly on the runoff. Meanwhile, Republicans have spent about $14 million. Clearly, both parties are invested in the outcome, as the excessive investing suggests, and as the interest of big-name party leaders also indicates.
Former President Barack Obama will be headed down to Georgia, where he’ll stump for Warnock on Dec. 1. Obama is essentially Democratic royalty – his presence is as big a draw as you can muster. Sitting President Joe Biden, less of a cultural icon than his predecessor, also has some political clout to pass around – although there is no indication of whether Biden will stump for Warnock. Biden aids have told POLITICO that “the White House let the campaign know they are willing to do whatever they need to keep the seat blue – including stay out of it, if need be. Their only focus is the win.”
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.