A marathon election campaign will enter its final sprint on Tuesday when Georgia voters decide the final US Senate seat – and shape the next phase of Joe Biden’s presidency.
Opinion polls suggest a narrow lead for incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock over his Republican challenger, former American football star Herschel Walker.
Warnock’s victory would give Democrats 51 seats in the 100-seat Senate, a stronger hand than they currently hold in an evenly divided chamber where Vice President Kamala Harris throws the tiebreaker.
This is the second time in two years that a Senate race has ended in Georgia because neither candidate has won a majority on Election Day. But the Peach State is showing few signs of election fatigue, with officials reporting record early voting turnout.
National and state Democrats are also not slowing down when supporting Warnock. Celebrity-led events took place last week, including a concert by the Dave Matthews Band, a solicitation with actresses Tessa Thompson and America Ferrera, and a rally targeting Georgia’s Asian American community with Jeannie Mai Jenkins and Daniel Dae. Kim.
Warnock, pastor of the former church of Martin Luther King, closed the week with a rally in Atlanta led by the party’s biggest star, Barack Obama. “I’m here to tell you that we can’t let go,” the ex-president said after taking the stage to roars and chants. “I’m here to tell you that we can’t disconnect. We cannot be complacent. We have to walk the strip. And I know you can do it because you’ve done it before.
The event felt like a Baptist sermon as, with nearly every sentence the former president uttered, the crowd cheered and responded with “yeah”, “okay” and “go”, illustrating Georgia’s geography squarely. in the deep south in the Bible. Belt.
Obama was liberated, hard-hitting and sardonic on the midterm campaign trail, eviscerating Republicans in a way few Democrats can. He said: “Since the last time I came here, Mr Walker has spoken about issues that are of great importance to the people of Georgia. As if it was better to be a vampire or a werewolf. This is a debate that I must confess to having had myself in the past. When I was seven years old. Then I grew up. »
He added: “In case you were wondering, by the way, Mr Walker decided he wanted to be a werewolf. Which is great. As far as I’m concerned, he can be anything he wants. wants to be except a US senator.
As Florida turns Republican red, Georgia emerges as one of the nation’s most critical swing states. Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump there in 2020 helped propel him to the White House. Warnock and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff won Senate seats in January 2021 following a runoff, giving their party control of the chamber.
Obama hailed Georgians’ ability to influence the national political landscape, taking advantage of post-2020 achievements such as infrastructure spending, gun safety legislation, reduced prescription drug prices and a record investment in clean energy. “It happened because of you, Georgia. And now we need you to do it again.
Democrats hope Obama’s intervention will energize the party base. Ashley Davis, a student who attended the rally, said, “I’m ready. I have been canvassing since the start of the election, and I also do telephone banking. I feel invigorated by this speech because it is so true. We can’t stop because we know what’s at stake. Georgia is ready and we have shown that we are a force to be reckoned with.
Biden, on the other hand, stayed away, fearing he was a drag on Warnock. Instead, he’s aimed to help the campaign from afar, a strategy that proved successful mid-term as Democrats defied expectations.
On Friday, the president joined a phone bank run by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Boston, Massachusetts, to help Warnock’s campaign and drew a stark contrast to Walker. “This is not a referendum on Warnock,” he said. “It’s a choice – a choice between two men… One doesn’t deserve to be in the United States Senate based on his truthfulness and what he said and what he didn’t.” didn’t say. The other man is a really, really decent, honorable guy.
Republicans won every other race statewide in Georgia last month. Governor Brian Kemp, who won re-election, has now thrown his weight behind Walker. A strong turnout on election day by party voters could still push the former footballer to victory.
But Walker has proven a motivating factor for Democratic enthusiasm as he is Trump-endorsed, lacks political pedigree and has made a series of bizarre and wild claims. A flyer sent to homes by the Democratic Party of Georgia asks, “How embarrassed would you be if Herschel Walker was your senator?
Walker’s campaign has been plagued by accusations that he abused girlfriends in the past and paid for their abortions, undermining his anti-abortion stance. Recently, he was charged with maintaining his primary residence in Texas, not Georgia. Walker denied the allegations.
Warnock narrowly edged Walker in the Nov. 8 election by 49.44% to 48.49%. An Emerson College Polling/The Hill survey of Georgia voters found Warnock at 49% support and Walker at 47%, with 4% undecided.
John Zogby, author and pollster, said: “Warnock must have picked up some kind of momentum from November 8 because black voters seem to be more energetic and they don’t go with Herschel Walker.
“Walker has had a number of issues he’s had to deal with since November 8th and he hasn’t handled them well. Even with Kemp’s help, which could be considerable, at the end of the day, voters aren’t voting. not who the governor wants them to vote for: they vote for the candidate.
With Democrats already guaranteed control of the Senate for another two years, a true 51-seat majority would speed the confirmation process for Biden’s administrative and judicial nominees and provide a cushion for the president should any Democrats buck the party line.
Additionally, Democrats would gain more seats and financial resources on Senate committees, and committee chairmen would no longer need Republican support to issue persuasive subpoenas at investigations.
Biden told reporters last month, “It’s always better with 51, because we’re in a situation where you don’t need to have uniform committee membership. And that’s why it’s important, above all. But it’s just better. The bigger the numbers, the better.
Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said, “It makes a big difference because the Democrats would get a majority on almost every committee. Court nominations will go fast, fast, fast because you will have much easier access to the floor as the clear majority party in the Senate.
“Also, look at how many old senators there are… If there’s an open seat and people are upset with Biden, they could end up voting Republican in any purple state.”