Two Senate seats in Georgia will be up for grabs in 2020. With the retirement of Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) facing many Democratic challengers for his seat, Georgia will be a political battleground as candidates fight for their spot in the Senate. Students at Emory have the potential to vote in a groundbreaking “double-barrel” election, in which the outcome of two Senate seats could potentially lead to Democratic control of the Senate.
Georgia will be one of the key states that determines which party leads the Senate after 2020. With a current 53-47 Republican majority, Democrats need to capture four more seats. Emory Democrats should vote in Georgia to push for the elections of two Democratic senators.
The outcome of Georgia’s election will be vital to Democrats if they want to take control of the Senate. Double-barrel elections are extremely influential as they almost always result in candidates from the same party winning both elections. In the 54 cases of double-barrel elections since 1913, only eight resulted in a split-ticket across parties. Thus, it is likely that the same party will gain control of both seats.
In recent years, Georgia has been becoming more Democratic, and the state could go blue in 2020. Although most state offices are currently held by Republicans, recent elections have shown that Democrats are gaining more support in Georgia. For instance, in the 2016 election, President Donald J. Trump won Georgia by only 5 percentage points as opposed to an 8 percent difference in the 2012 election. In 2008, Georgia was 12.5 points redder than the overall nation, but in 2016 it was only 7.3 points redder.
Elections since 2016 have demonstrated Democratic momentum in Georgia. For instance, in the 2018 election, Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) beat Republican Karen Handel in Georgia’s 6th congressional district, which had been held by Republicans for decades, including Emory alumnus and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Gov. Brian Kemp only narrowly overtook Stacey Abrams in the governor’s race, as he received just 50.2 percent of the vote amid widespread claims of voter suppression across the state. This trend of tight races in the state shows that Democrats have the potential to take control of a previous red state like Georgia.
Several strong Democratic candidates have already announced their plans to run for office in the 2020 Senate elections. For example, Sarah Riggs Amico has entered the race as a pro-choice, evangelical Christian with a passion for justice and equality. Following the recent bankruptcy of her car-hauling business, she states that her hardships have given her sense of urgency to solve major issues. Additionally, she was previously Abrams’ running mate as lieutenant governor, and thus has high name recognition within Georgia. Another strong contender is Jon Ossoff, well-known for his strong campaign for a special election in Georgia’s 6th District, in which he raised $30 million and lost by merely 4 points. He hopes to legalize marijuana, provide health insurance for all Americans and increase free higher education programs. These strong candidates with clear platforms have already established themselves in the political fields with a wide array of support in previous elections.
With two pivotal Senate elections in 2020, Democrats at Emory should make sure to register to vote in Georgia. Voters will have a rare chance to make a real impact on the makeup of the U.S. Senate. With enough support, Georgia could finally become a leader in our national government, not just a leader in voter suppression. It’s up to us to make sure that happens.
Brammhi Balarajan (23C) is from Las Vegas.