Georgia Senate Races: Why do They Matter?

By Grace Mersch

January 13, 2021

After three months, the full results of the election have become clear. The Georgia Senate runoff elections took place on Jan. 6, and the results made history.

In a tight race, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossof beat their Republican competitors, the first of their party to win a Senate race in the state since 2000. The nature of their victories is particularly unique, given the fact Ossof will be the youngest U.S. senator to ever serve, at age 33, and Warnock will serve as Georgia’s first Black senator.

Additionally, the wins give Democrats control of the Senate, dramatically altering the framework of the chamber. Senator Mitch McConnell, for example, will be demoted from his position as Senate majority leader. He will most likely serve as minority leader, though, which still has a powerful influence on the activities of the Senate. Senator Chuck Schumer, current Senate minority leader, will take place as majority leader once the new senators take office.

But how much, exactly, is expected to change?

Possibly a lot. The recent election gave Democrats majority control of the executive branch, Senate and House, meaning there is no divided government that could lead to political gridlock and standstills. In previous years, presidents have struggled to cooperate with a Congress that is dominated by the opposite party.

Democrats will find it easier to create public policy when party divides don’t stand in their way; however, not every decision will require a simple majority of votes in the House or the Senate, so there’s no worry they will make such drastic actions like drawing up constitutional amendments. But more subtle policy changes — and maybe even big ones — would likely be made in the areas of immigration, civil rights and the nation’s COVID-19 response. 

In the next four years, we might see a government more willing to work together, something many Americans have long been advocating for.