With almost all votes in and counted, Mr. Raphael Warnock has now officially won the Senate seat of Georgia for the Democrats. As a result, it marks the first time since FDR that the incumbent party has gained seats in the Senate.
The election followed the path predicted by many pollsters, being too close to call in the mid-terms and then falling slightly in favor of the Democrats in Tuesday’s run-offs.
The results were proclaimed but decided by most major media outlets on Wednesday, with Warnock clearly leading the Republican former football star Herschel Walker by an impressive 97,000 votes. Several elected leaders around the U.S. congratulated Warnock on the same day, taking the results as further evidence of the Americans’ rejection of what he infamously calls ‘MAGAism’ (read: American fascism), and calling the first full-term Black Georgia Senator ‘A good man’.
Warnock himself announced the results with the words of a true patriot: “After a hard-fought campaign — or should I say campaigns — it is my honor to utter the four most powerful words ever spoken in a democracy: The people have spoken.”
The results, while predictable, were close enough for discomfort, and several important lessons can be drawn from this historic win of a moderate approach. Firstly, it is clear that simple identity politics is not enough to make a significant impact on American elections anymore, if it ever was. Many commentators, including Herschel Walker’s own son, have pointed out that the lazy Republican choice of running a Black man well-integrated into White society wreaks of hypocrisy. Hence, over 90% of Black Georgia voters opted for the Democrats in this election, understanding that the fate of the country and its democracy lies at stake. Or as the President of Georgia’s Young Democrats chapter Bryce Berry put it: “Republicans seem to have thought they could put up Herschel Walker and confuse Black folks … We are not confused.”
On the flip side, the election also shows how resilient and powerful sheer spitefulness and anger can be. Sherrilyn Ifill, former director-counselor of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, called the race “among the most depressing and ominous things I’ve seen in American politics in my lifetime”, simply because of how close and drawn it was. For context, the Republicans could have hardly chosen a more ill-suited candidate than Herschel Walker, whose only qualification – much like Donald Trump – is his celebrity background and shameless speech. The guy literally claimed to be a law enforcement officer when he was not, a large-scale employer when his company registers only eight employees, a pro-life enthusiast when he has paid for at least two abortions, and a responsible father when he has abandoned three children over the years. Regardless, nearly 70% White Georgians – especially in rural areas – voted for him to sit on one of the most prestigious and influential bodies in the entire U.S. government, simply because of his Trumpist credentials.
Finally, Ja’han Jones of MSNBC has observed that many red rural counties across the state saw significant numbers of votes switching Blue within the span of only four weeks since the midterms. This was the result of a well-funded and intentional effort by the Warnock campaign to appeal to Walker’s core constituency, often neglected by Democrat candidates. This offers a perfect example of the efficacy of focused campaigning, even in unconventional ways.
President Biden even posts his congratulations phone call with warnock saying ” Congrats, Senator. Now let’s get you sworn in again.”