What’s really riding on Raphael Warnock beating Herschel Walker

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To give you an idea of how insiders think today’s Georgia runoff election will play out, every poll has Raphael Warnock ahead by a few points – including some of those Republican propaganda polls that falsely predicted a red wave in November – even as the Republican Lieutenant Governor of Georgia is publicly throwing Herschel Walker under the bus before the results are even in.

But again, that’s just how insiders think today will go; a swing race like this one is unlikely to by decided by more than about four points no matter how glaring the difference in candidate quality. So if you’re not comfortable with the reality that insiders could be off by a few points and Herschel Walker could still theoretically win, then spend the day calling your friends or relatives in Georgia and urging them to vote, and spend the day using your social media account to do the same.

But let’s say Warnock does win today. What will it mean? It’ll give the Democrats fifty-one Senators instead of fifty, a real majority instead of a more cumbersome de facto majority. This means Senate Democrats can move things like federal judge nominations out of committee much more quickly. It also means that if Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema tries to hijack a particular nomination, the Democrats will be in a position to pit them against each other, because they’ll only need one of those two votes to get to fifty. It also protects the Democratic majority against the unlikely but theoretically possible scenario in which Sinema realizes she’s destroyed her reelection prospects and becomes a Republican in an attempt at further lining her pockets before her term ends.

Democrats didn’t win the House, so it’s not as if the House and Senate will exactly be teaming up to pass a lot of legislation, right? Well, with the narrow Republican majority in the House, you never know who’s going to end up being Speaker, or what voting blocs might emerge.

So there’s a lot at stake today. We keep hearing about how difficult the 2024 Senate map supposedly is for the Democrats. I’m not sure I buy that, considering what all can change in two years. Back in 2018, no one thought that the Democrats would be able to flip both Georgia Senate seats just two years later. But winning today’s runoff race would keep Warnock in the Senate for six more years, and make the 2024 map one seat easier. And as we keep seeing, one seat really can make a big difference.

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