understand the elections in Georgia, which could tip the Senate

Fulton County, Ga., Registrar and Election Officer Richard Barron on November 25.

To be in the spotlight twice in a row is a privilege that the State of Georgia would have gladly done without. Two months after November 3, it is the key ballot for President-elect Joe Biden. From Monday, December 14, the voters of the “Peach State” can begin to vote in advance – the D-day being scheduled for January 5, 2021 – to elect the two senators who will sit on 117e Congress of the United States. The result of this vote will depend on the capacity of the 46e President of the United States to carry out his policies.

Georgia was delayed in the November 3 election. The result of the presidential election was only certified on November 20, with the victory of Joe Biden (49.50% of the vote against 49.26% for Donald Trump).

Above all, none of the candidates for election to the Senate won. In the first round, Republican David Perdue, Georgia senator since 2015, and his young Democratic opponent, Jon Ossoff (33), each obtained less than 50% of the vote (49.7% for the former, 47.9 % for the second), which automatically results in a second round in this state.

In the other election, Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler won 25.9% of the vote against Democrat Raphael Warnock. This pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where Martin Luther King preached between 1960 and 1968 won 32.9% of the vote. Another Republican candidate, Doug Collins, obtained 20% of the vote. He retired from the second round. Hence the second round, in early January, two weeks before the entry into office of Joe Biden.

If Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff win, the Senate will find itself in perfect equality between the two camps, the casting vote then going to the future vice-president, Kamala Harris. Conversely, a single success in Georgia will be enough for Republicans to retain their majority and complicate the task of Joe Biden, especially on issues related to health and the fight against climate change. As with the November 3 election, voters have several options for voting: by mail, in person in advance or on polling day.

Read also: Georgia at the heart of the battle for the Senate
  • Republicans display their divisions

Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, campaigning, in Cumming, November 13, 2020.

Donald Trump is shooting red balls on the two most important Republican elected officials in the state: Governor Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state, responsible for holding the elections. They are the ones who organized the November 3 ballot and the president – and his supporters – accuse them baselessly of having played a role in the defeat. “The governor did nothing … I am ashamed to have supported him”, Donald Trump said on November 29 of Mr. Kemp. As for Brad Raffensperger and his wife, the president called them enemies of the people and they received enough death threats for the state to grant them an escort.

David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler also questioned the outcome of the election and called on Brad Raffensperger to resign. He defended the conduct of the elections, ordered a new count and told them that he would not resign. But the two Republican candidates also know that they are walking on eggshells: if they have not yet recognized that Trump lost the election, they nevertheless allude to it in their campaign. Indeed, they present their candidacy as a necessary counterweight to the presidency of Joe Biden.

Difficult to defend when Republican voters have not yet mourned the defeat of Donald Trump. Lin Wood, a famous Atlanta lawyer who embraced the president’s cause by calling for the overturn of postal votes, is now calling Republican voters not to vote for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, accused of weakly supporting the president’s cause.

On social networks, hashtags like #CrookedPerdue and #CrookedKelly have appeared and on their own accounts, the two elected officials are accused of being “DemoRats” (“Democratic rats”).

Faced with demotivated, demobilized Republican voters who do not see the point of voting if the election is rigged, the president of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, replied that the election was not lost in advance, “That nothing is decided”.

  • Democrats are trying to re-mobilize

The two Democratic candidates, Raphael Warnock, left, and Jon Ossoff, right, campaigning in Marietta on November 15, 2020.

For Democrats, the situation is almost simpler. They need to re-engage voters. But analysis of the November 3 election results shows that Joe Biden won the state with a moderate platform, far from the rhetoric and political goals of the Democratic Party left.

He beat Donald Trump by rallying wealthy voters, students and seniors in the suburbs around Atlanta, according to an analysis by the New York Times, who notes that the share of the black electorate has fallen to its lowest level since 2006. Democrats hope that Raphael Warnock’s candidacy will re-mobilize the African-American electorate and make him the first black senator from the Deep South.

The other surprise for Democrats was the high turnout from voters of Asian and Pacific Island origin. While they only represent around 4% of the state’s population – around 238,000 voters – the turnout in this community has jumped 91% from the 2016 election, reports the political strategy consulting firm TargetSmart. And exit polls show voters of Asian descent overwhelmingly voted Joe Biden.

To mobilize these voters, the Democratic Party uses the recipe concocted by the former leader of the Democratic minority in the House of Representatives of Georgia, Stacey Abrams, to delight the state: by creating coalitions of interests. Thus party heavyweights like Andrew Yang – the former candidate for the 2020 primary – are participating with Martin Luther King III, the son of Martin Luther King, in the #WinBothSeats campaign, intended to raise funds for associations seeking to mobilize the black electorate for the election.

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Finally, the political action groups of the Democratic Party are adapting to the reality on the ground in Georgia. Democrats in this state are not as progressive as those in New York or California. Neither Jon Ossoff nor Raphael Warnock endorsed the Green New Deal promoted by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This does not prevent the Sunrise Movement – a group of young activists fighting against climate change, representing the left wing of the party – from mobilizing, to register several thousand people on the electoral lists.

Until January 5, 2021, the four candidates and their supporters challenge the Covid-19 and beat the campaign, go door to door, hold political meetings while more or less respecting physical distancing.


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