After Democrats’ stunning victories in Georgia two years ago—Joe Biden’s extraordinary win in November, followed by the Senate-shaking triumphs of Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in January—Peach State Republicans reacted with a furor. State lawmakers passed an enormous package of voting restrictions all designed to make sure they wouldn’t experience such humiliation again.
A number of provisions in that bill were pilloried nationally, like limits on the number of ballot drop boxes, reductions to early voting availability, and a prohibition on giving food or water to voters waiting in line at polling places. One change, however, received less attention at the time, though it looms large now: Republicans also deliberately curtailed the length of election runoffs, shrinking them from nine weeks to just four.
As the entire country learned in 2020, Georgia is unique in requiring runoffs if no candidate in a general election wins a majority of the vote. But instead of taking place early next year, Warnock’s latest runoff will take place on Dec. 6. Republicans of course never openly said why they wanted to shorten runoffs, but they wouldn’t have done so unless they thought it would benefit them. And it’s not hard to figure out their motivations.
Early voting and mail voting, as you know, played a huge role in powering Democratic success in Georgia in the previous election, which is precisely why Republicans have sought to clamp down on it directly. But indirectly, the briefer runoff makes it harder to request an a mail ballot, receive it, and return it in time, and the number of days for voting early in-person is also much shorter.
Of course, a shorter window before the second round also means there will be fewer opportunities for Herschel Walker to say or do even more disastrous things to hurt his own campaign (not that the GOP was anticipating such a need—though you never know). More importantly, there’s less time for Democrats’ vaunted grassroots fundraising machine to kick into gear and get Warnock the resources he’ll need to combat another month’s worth of Republican smears.
With races still uncalled in Arizona and Nevada, control of the Senate is still uncertain. Yes, that means that the battle for the majority may come down to Georgia once again. Keep the Senate and Biden can keep appointing judges, including, if necessary, to the Supreme Court. Lose the Senate and we get Mitch McConnell yet again. But no matter what, we need Warnock—an amazing progressive fighter and champion of those who need help most—in Congress.
Holy crap, what an amazing night! Where do we even begin this week’s episode of The Downballot? Well, we know exactly where: abortion. Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard recap Tuesday’s extraordinary results, starting with a clear-eyed examination of the issue that animated Democrats as never before—and that pundits got so badly wrong. They also discuss candidate quality (still really important!), Democratic meddling in GOP primaries (good for democracy, actually), and “soft” Biden disapprovers (lots of them voted for Democrats).
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