More likely than not, Senate control will not be decided until January 5th, when a pair of run-offs in Georgia will determine the fate of Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden. This is good news for the GOP despite Donald Trump just recently very likely losing the state by the slimmest of margins.
There are a couple reasons why the GOP should be considered the favorite in both contests despite Democrats insisting the state is turning a shade of blue.
The first is the state’s history. Democrats are batting 0 for, oh heck, every statewide run – off since 1992. Democrats will counter they already have won more statewide races with mail – in balloting than they ever did before but the win was so narrow it could revert back to the norm easily.
Second is the money likely to pour into the contests is unlikely to be a factor. Consider $173 million has already been poured into the two contests and one wonders how much more money the Left can dump into longshot races after Tuesday’s disasters in the Carolina’s Alaska and Montana. For their part, Republicans sure don’t seem to be worried about the cash Democrats will dump into the contest due to the variables at work.
The third would be infrastructure. Democrats relied on hatred of Donald Trump to mobilize their base and win over wayward suburbanites but in a run-off where the Orange Man is not on the ballot having door knockers and volunteers is a necessity. Democrats have very little of that.
The GOP does though. The GOP has built up its ground game in the state and deployed it to full effect this year – benefiting Trump and a whole host of down-ballot candidates – particularly in legislative contests in the suburbs of Atlanta. This is sure to help in a run – off where turnout drops precipitously from presidential contests.
And while Democrats might downplay the biggest of all variables, the GOP is likely to have the more mobilized base. In a lower turnout run – off then, enthusiasm among a party’s rank and file is crucial. Democrats are likely to be coming down from the Trump Presidency while Republicans will mobilize their base with threats of a Democratic controlled federal government. It is entirely possible this argument skipping out Trump might win over some suburbanites who backed Biden.
Keeping these suburbanites will be more crucial to Democrats than Republicans. The new Democratic coalition in the state is reliant on these voters whereas the GOP only needs to win at the margins to swing the contest.
It probably did not help on Saturday Chuck Schumer said a win in GA would “change America.” That is not what moderate voters will want to hear. Especially when some of those same moderate voters picked the GOP Senate candidates over Donald Trump or their Democratic opponents.
Though some 20K votes remain to be counted in the state, it is clear Senator Perdue (R) outran Trump in the suburbs by a couple points (with a libertarian taking votes). It does look like Democratic candidates matched the GOP vote total in the special but the turnout for that race lagged the other state races by 100K so it is hard to say what that means. Either way, already GOP Senators will have an in with some voters the President did not.
All that said, Georgia certainly is a competitive state. Whereas Florida has been trending red, North Carolina has stayed purple due to rural vote changes matching suburban, Georgia is seeing its suburbs go blue in a racially polarized state and the GOP is struggling to adapt. But, look down – ballot to see just how much these changes can be dependent on the current political environment.
Democrats spent millions trying to turn the legislature blue in down – ballot contests in an effort to prepare for redistricting. The effort has so far failed. Despite making gains in 2018, this go – round Democrats have largely swapped seats in the Senate and only gained a single seat in the house – far short of the 16 they needed to flip it.
Indeed, part of this has to do with realignment still occurring in local areas. House Minority Leader Bob Trammell was defeated in his ancestrally Democratic seat anchored in a county which went Republican by twenty points. While Georgia is increasingly competitive in statewide races, the party will have to win some new rural seats while holding the few they have to ever be in the majority. Expect redistricting next year to make that even harder.
All that said, the election will be competitive. But, right now, I would much rather be Mitch McConnell than Chuck Schumer.