More than four million votes and $828 million later, Georgia elected its two newest senators on Tuesday. Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock narrowly outperformed incumbent GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.
The two newest senators both made history in the state. Warnock will become the first Black senator from Georgia, and Ossoff will become the state’s first Jewish senator. Their marginal victories were unexpected by many Democrats.
“None of us were expecting both Warnock and Ossoff to win,” said sophomore Sam Waterman, who is president of College Democrats at IU. “We are just overjoyed. It was a really crazy night and into the next morning.”
Republicans are examining why these elections did not go their way. Alice Lopera, the press secretary for College Republicans at IU, said this election could change the Republican Party for the better.
“I think it’s going to make us stronger,” she said. “We don’t have the majority anymore. We’re going to have to be more bipartisan. I think that’s what this country needs. I think that’s what this country deserves.”
These victories could have meaningful implications for how President-elect Joe Biden will govern in his first two years in office, as control of both the House and the Senate increases his ability to get his legislation passed through Congress. It also helps his cabinet picks, who will likely move through the confirmation process quickly.
Progressive activist and IU junior Max Sandefer said a Democratic majority could help college students obtain stimulus checks. A recent proposal in the United States Senate would provide $2,000 checks to adults and their college-aged dependents. That bill was killed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but Sen. Chuck Schumer — who is likely to take McConnell’s place in that role — could reintroduce the legislation.
“If they bring it up again — and I think they will — that would be really big for me,” he said.
Waterman said this election saw an increased effort on the ground, with local organizations taking the lead on the election even while the race gained more national attention.
“Stacey Abrams and a group of organizers just mobilized people and gave them a voice,” she said. “They make them feel like they could make a change in the state.”
Democrats invested large sums of money and personnel into Georgia, largely spurred by demographic shifts in the state over the past few years. Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who came within two points of the governorship in Georgia in 2018, founded an organization dedicated to protecting voting rights and flipping Georgia to the Democrats.
Lopera was impressed with the way the Democrats organized their campaign.
“I think the Democratic Party did a really good job on marketing themselves,” she said. “I’ll give them that. From what I saw, they were doing a lot of online stuff, emails, calling. I know people who did phone banks.”
While the Democratic Party began celebrating its new Senate majority on Wednesday, the legislature joined together to certify Biden’s Electoral College victory. That certification was interrupted when a mob of Trump supporters breached the U.S. Capitol, one of the most heavily guarded government buildings in the world.
“It was completely absurd,” Lopera said. “I call it a riot. Attacking the Capitol is a domestic threat. They are domestic terrorists.”
College Republicans at IU strongly condemned the violence on Capitol Hill. The Democratic leadership in the House and Senate, along with a few elected Republicans, have called for President Trump’s removal from office. That could be achieved through either a second impeachment hearing or an invocation of the 25th Amendment, though the latter option would require Vice President Pence to vote to remove Trump from office.
Lopera said the attack on the Capitol does not warrant Trump being removed from office.
“It’s not necessary,” she said. “If you heard what Donald Trump said yesterday, he pleaded, ‘Go home in peace.’ What else could he have done? What did Nancy Pelosi want him to do instead?”