This is the top story from our daily newsletter published on November 13, 2020. To have this and more delivered directly to your inbox scroll down and enter your email or click here to sign up.
Top Story: The Associated Press reported Wednesday that “North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis has won reelection to the Senate, defeating Democrat Cal Cunningham after a hard-fought campaign and days of counting ballots.” Why this matters: “Republicans now have 50 Senate seats in the next Congress, compared with 48 for Democrats. Control of the chamber will be decided by two January runoffs in Georgia, with Republicans needing to win one more seat for a majority. Democrats would win control if it ends up a 50-50 tie because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be the tiebreaker.” Here’s what both sides are saying about Georgia’s two run-off races:
On the Left: FiveThirtyEight’s Perry Bacon Jr. says: Democrats “could still win that Senate majority, but it probably needs an unlikely sweep in Georgia. A state that last elected a Democratic U.S. senator in 2000 would need to decide to elect two Democrats at the same time, as both the state’s Senate seats — the one that was normally scheduled election this year and a special election to fill a seat left vacant by a 2019 retirement — head for a runoff on Jan 5.” Ronald Brownstein of CNN says this could be tough because “Democrats have struggled to turn out Black voters in earlier Senate runoffs in Georgia.” With that said, “…they are optimistic that the presence of the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is African American, in one of the contests, and the robust get-out-the-vote machinery built by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, will largely rectify that problem.” Chuck Rocha of The Guardian adds that “Latino voters will be crucial.” Rocha writes: “There are nearly a million Latinos living in Georgia, the majority of whom live in and around the Atlanta metro area. These voters represent a small but decisive 5% of the electorate. In a world in which races are won on razor-thin margins, that 5% is a crucial swing vote.” If turnout is an issue for Democrats Roy Cooper of the Week “… suggests that Democrats develop their own [coronavirus] rescue package, which every upcoming member of Congress, and both of the Georgia Democratic challengers, will promise publicly to pass on day one of the next Congress. Such a concrete offer might just drive enough liberal turnout to match what appears to be an extremely narrow Biden win at the presidential level in Georgia. Vote Democrat, and get $1,200 simoleons directly into the pockets of each and every Georgia voter, plus other nice goodies. It’s just crazy enough to work.”
On the Right: The National Review’s John Fund titles his take: “Don’t Believe the Hype: GOP Favored in Georgia Runoffs.” Fund writes: “Republicans have won every statewide runoff vote in state history, an unbroken string that started in 1992. Democrats counter by saying that Georgia is changing, and record turnout of mail-in ballots made the difference in giving Joe Biden his current lead in the state. But Republicans like their chances no matter how many millions Democrats spend. The Biden campaign, worried that its volunteers were scared of COVID-19, did almost no door-knocking until the final weeks of the campaign.” Tiana Lowe of the Washington Examiner says that “If Sens. David Perdue or Kelly Loeffler win reelection in Georgia on Jan. 5, the most powerful woman in Washington, if not the world, will be Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican senator from Maine. The moderate Mainer would be the swing vote on the most divisive of Joe Biden’s priorities, meaning she could block unacceptable Cabinet appointees, judicial nominations, and bills passed with reconciliation. If Perdue and Loeffler lose, Kamala Harris becomes the swing vote.” To that end, The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board asks: “What difference would a single vote make?” They answer: “Republicans would lose their committee chairmanships and thus the power to serve as a check on the Biden Administration. Joe Biden deserves the Cabinet he wants in most cases, but a GOP Senate could deter appointments like Elizabeth Warren at Treasury. Oversight Chairman Ron Johnson’s probe of FBI and other abuses would cease. Bernie Sanders would run Budget, which means a squeeze on the Pentagon. Sherrod Brown of Ohio would run Banking, and Ms. Warren would run the financial institutions subcommittee. Have fun, bankers. A 50-seat Democratic majority led by Mr. Schumer might also be willing to break the filibuster.” In conclusion: “The Georgia stakes couldn’t be higher.”
Flag This: There’s an interesting subplot unfolding around Georgia’s Senate races. Unsurprisingly, it has to do with Big Money and Big Tech. According to some political analysts, the outlays ahead of the Jan. 5 elections could reach $1 billion. For context, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics projected that a record $14 billion would be spent on all US federal elections combined. Most of this money will be aimed at increasing voter turnout since runoff races generally don’t command the same engagement as the main event on November 3rd. Some of these funds will be spent on in-person and online events, but a majority will be allocated to advertising. While local TV will certainly reap some benefits, intricate targeting is usually better on platforms like Facebook and Google. However, Facebook and Google said they plan to continue their political ad ban for several weeks. Both Republicans and Democrats are worried these bans will limit their reach ahead of January 5th.