Georgia – In 2010 health care bill was passed in both Houses of Congress [House of representatives and Senate] and became law under the leadership of President Obama. Even though every single Republican voted against it. But later that year, Republicans won back the majority in the House. For the rest of his presidency, Obama never again passed a major piece of legislation. Then, Donald Trump became president, with a Republican House and a Republican Senate. They passed his tax bill. No Democrats voted for it. But in the next election, Democrats won control of the House. And that was the end of Trump’s legislative agenda.
What happens to Joe Biden Presidency?
Now, Joe Biden is about to start his presidency, with a House controlled by Democrats. But we still don’t know who will control the Senate. Of the Senate’s 100 seats, we know Republicans will have 50 and Democrats will have 48. But remaining two, we don’t know yet. These are the last two races of the 2020 election. And they’ll decide if the new president’s agenda will be ambitious, or compromised. And they’re both happening in the same place: Georgia
The situation in Georgia
In nearly every US state, elections are won by the candidate with the most votes. But in the state of Georgia, most candidates need to reach at least 50% of votes to win: A true majority. When that doesn’t happen in Georgia, the top two candidates move on to a second election: a “runoff.”. And everyone votes all over again. That’s what happened in November.
Republican Senator David Perdue got the most votes in his reelection race. But he missed that 50% mark by just a few thousand votes. So he and the Democrat, Jon Ossoff, will compete in a runoff election on January 5th 2021. What’s extremely unusual, though, is that there were two Senate races in the same state in the same year. The other was a special election, to fill the seat of a senator who retired early due to bad health.
In this race, several Republicans and several Democrats ran. And no one got close to 50%. So the top two candidates — Republican Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock — now go to the runoff.
History of runoff elections in USA
In the US, runoff elections are most common in the South, an area with a long history of white politicians suppressing the votes of Black Americans. And during the Civil Rights movement, runoff elections became one of the tools to do that. In 1963, a white Georgia politician named Denmark Groover proposed the runoff system after he lost an election to what he called “Negro bloc voting.”
He argued that when a Black candidate runs against many white candidates, the Black candidate would get a “bloc” of Black voter support, while white support would be spread out. But if you made the Black candidate run against just one white candidate, knowing that lots of white voters wouldn’t vote for a Black candidate, the white candidate would have a better chance at winning.
Years later, Groover was open about the fact that his plan was racially motivated. But Georgia adopted it. In 1990, the federal Justice Department sued Georgia over their runoff system. They argued it had a “demonstrably chilling effect on the ability of Blacks to become candidates.” But the suit failed. And Georgia still does it this way.
Is Georgia a Republican or Democratic?
This year’s special Senate race features exactly the kind of matchup the system was designed to produce: A Black candidate vs a white candidate. But Georgia, once a reliably Republican state, is changing. Organizers are getting Black voters registered in record numbers, more of its white residents are voting Democratic, and in the 2020 presidential election, a Democrat won Georgia for the first time in 28 years.
What happens if Democrats win both in Georgia?
If both Democrats win their runoffs, making it 50-50, the Democratic vice president would serve as the tie-breaking vote. So Democrats would take majority control. And that would mean Biden could likely pass much of his progressive agenda.
What happens if Republicans win both in Georgia?
But if Republicans win either seat, they win control. And the Republican who’ll be in charge of that Senate, Mitch McConnell, has vowed not to let any of Biden’s legislation pass, saying “think of me as the Grim Reaper.” Joe Biden – “I need two senators from this state. I want to get something done.” Donald Trump – “The voters of Georgia will determine which party runs every committee, writes every piece of legislation, and that really means control of this country.”
Today, there’s no longer any expectation that the parties will be able to work together on most issues. That’s why who holds the majority is more important than it’s ever been. The 2020 election is almost over. And we know who will be president. But, until the state of Georgia weighs in, we won’t know what he’ll actually be able to do.