Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock was re-elected on Tuesday (6) from the southern US state of Georgia. The victory in the second round, an aftermath of the mid-term elections, represents an important respite for US President Joe Biden, whose party will have an extra seat in the Senate starting next year.
The election pitted two black candidates and was tight from the start; in almost all the calculations on the night of this Tuesday (6), they appeared with minimal margins of difference.
Warnock beat former football star Herschel Walker, Republican. Georgia is the only state that has a runoff in the legislative election, in case the Senate candidates do not reach 50% of the votes in the first round – which took place on November 8.
It was an election closely watched by the whole country. That’s because, with the result, the Democratic Party will have 51 seats, out of a total of 100, in the Senate as of January 3 – one more than the party has today. Until now, the party had the minimum majority to approve projects, which meant that any dissent at the base was enough to stop government proposals, as happened a number of times in the first half of Biden’s term. With Warnock’s victory, the government will have greater capacity to circumvent dissent. This will also be important to confirm presidential appointments to positions such as judges, ambassadors or heads of public bodies, which need to undergo Senate scrutiny.
Finally, a majority will be essential now that Biden has lost control of the House, as Republicans have won a majority of seats in the House and promise to stop the government’s agenda.
Warnock is a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the same church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached, one of the milestones in the struggle for civil rights for the black population in Atlanta. He was elected to the Senate for the first time in 2020, in a special election to replace a Republican congressman who decided to retire. The Democratic base is concentrated mainly in Atlanta and other more urban regions, while the Republicans have strong appeal in the large rural areas of the southern US state.
Herschel Walker, the losing candidate, comes from football and had no political experience. He had his candidacy boosted by former President Donald Trump and faced a series of controversies during the campaign. The candidate, who said he was against abortion in any situation, even in cases of rape, was accused by two ex-girlfriends of having encouraged and paid for them to have abortions in the past. In addition, one of his children, a conservative influencer with more than 500,000 followers on Instagram, accused him of domestic violence.
In other more anecdotal controversies, he claimed he didn’t know what pronouns were and assumed he lived in Texas until the start of the campaign. On his platform, in addition to banning abortion, he advocated for “defending the family”, increased border control and increased police funding.
Walker’s defeat is one more in a series of blows to Trump, who has faced a series of setbacks in recent days. He had already been accused of boosting radical candidates that alienated voters, which was seen by members of his own Republican Party as one of the reasons why the party did not win a majority in the Senate. This Tuesday, Trump had another setback, this time related to his business: two of his companies were convicted of tax fraud in New York.
Trump did not campaign for Walker in the second round — just as the unpopular Biden did not go to the state in the final stretch of the campaign. The Republican candidate gained support in the campaign from the re-elected governor, Brian Kemp – moderate, who had distanced himself from the former football player in the first round. On the Democratic side, the most powerful campaign booster came from former President Barack Obama.
With over $400 million spent on the campaign, this was the most expensive election of these midterms.
The Democratic victory also consolidates the movement of activist Stacey Abrams. After losing the 2018 gubernatorial election (as she did again this year), she launched a broad effort to increase minority voting access in the state, registering thousands of black voters — turnout is not mandatory. In the USA. The initiative was considered essential to Biden’s victory in Georgia in 2020.
The movement changed the electoral landscape in the state, which only voted for Republican presidential candidates between 1996 and 2016. In 2012, there was not even an exit poll there because the state was not considered competitive enough to make the investment worthwhile .
In 2020, however, Biden won the majority of votes and turned Georgia back into a pendulum state, that is, with no clear preference for Democrats or Republicans. This is important to neutralize other states with the same characteristic, but which have been leaning more towards the Republicans in each election, such as Florida or Ohio. As Georgia has 16 votes in the country’s electoral college system, the eighth most relevant, it has once again become a decisive state in the outcome of the American presidential election.
The calculation this Tuesday was faster than expected given the tightness of the polls, which did not show a clear winner. And they stand in stark contrast to the chaos of two years ago.
It was in Georgia that Trump made one of the clearest gestures to try to steal the election, when he called the local secretary of state, responsible for controlling the election, and expressly asked: “All I want is this: to find 11,780 votes, one to more than we have [de diferença]🇧🇷 Because we won Georgia.”
Biden beat Trump by 11,779 votes and won all 16 Electoral College votes in the state, the eighth most heavily weighted in the US system. Trump sued Georgia alleging that 15,000 voters voted illegally, most named after people who have died, others who were not registered and some who could not have voted because they were convicted of serious crimes. Justice claims that the allegations were not only false, Trump knew they were false, and still decided to maintain them.
For this reason, this year the authorities launched a series of initiatives to speed up the count, in an attempt to prevent the conspiracies that arise when the results are slow to come out from gaining strength. Local legislation passed last year authorized counties to open and scan ballots that arrive in the mail before Election Day. One-third of counties began counting votes before polls closed.
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