The results of the 2020 Georgia Senate runoff election will decide Georgia and the United States' political landscape.
Georgia has runoffs for both Senate seats on Jan. 5. Republican incumbent Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff are campaigning head-to-head for one senate seat. In the runoff for Georgia's special election race, Republican incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler will face Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock.
People across the country are waiting to hear if the U.S. Senate will flip to a Democrat majority or stay Republican-controlled. Students at the University of Georgia have their own thoughts on who they are planning to vote for and why.
Malcolm Hardy, a senior biology major, said he is planning to vote for Ossoff and Warnock to uphold the freedom of individual choice.
“Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock hold up the tenets of our nation and the civil liberties in terms of healthcare,” Hardy said. “The option to have privatized insurance, but also have the choice to be covered under the Affordable Care Act is a huge reason as to why I choose to vote blue.”
The Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare, was passed by the 111st Congress of the United States and signed into law by President Barack Obama in March 2010. The ACA expanded health coverage to about 20 million American citizens.
Savannah Simpson, a junior political science and international affairs double major, said she will be voting for Perdue and Loeffler because she believes Georgia will have a brighter future in their hands.
“Loeffler’s strong support for veterans is far better than their competitors because she cares about their accessibility to healthcare,” Simpson said. “Perdue has shown us that he is a fighter for the peach state.”
Simpson said that she respected the motivation and hard work of Democrats to win the presidency.
“I have full confidence that even with a future Democratic president, the best interests of U.S. citizens will be kept in mind,” Simpson said. “I’m not worrying because everything happens for a reason. I’m just thankful to be alive in a time where so much is going on and so much growth is happening.”
Simi Patel, a junior majoring in psychology and criminal justice, said she plans to vote for Ossoff and Warnock because she hopes to prevent gridlock between the two chambers of Congress and the executive branch in future policymaking.
In politics, gridlock refers to a situation in which laws that address the interests of the public are difficult to move through the legislative process because control of the chambers of Congress and the presidency are split. The House is currently under Democratic control, and if the Democrats control the Senate and the White House, legislation that favors the Democratic Party would pass more smoothly into law.
Patel became emotional when the presidential race was called in Georgia, turning the normally red state into a blue stronghold.
“I definitely cried [when Georgia turned blue]. I didn’t think that Georgia was going to blue due to the mass voter suppression we had seen in past elections,” Patel said. “Georgia turning blue is a really big step in showing that red states are actually blue, but have mass voter suppression.”
Alex Huskey, chairperson of the UGA College Republicans, said he plans to vote for Perdue and Loeffler to “keep democracy in check.” He said his biggest concern is that the Democrat majority will try to pack the Supreme Court.
Court packing is the congressional method of adding additional seats to the Supreme Court in an attempt to gain a majority. Biden said he plans to convene a national commission to study the court system in response to questions about court packing, according to the National Public Radio. Biden packing the court with Democratic justices would offset the current majority the Republicans have on the Supreme Court.
In November 2018, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams with 50.2% of the vote against her 48.8%, barely avoiding a runoff. However, the close race proved to be a starting point for Georgia Democrats.
“[Georgia going blue] is something we’ve definitely seen coming for a while. In 2018, Governor Kemp only avoided a runoff by about 1%,” Huskey said. “It’s disappointing to see, but also a motivator that we need to work as hard as can in these runoffs.”
Jack Henry Decker, a senior political science and international affairs double major, said he will vote for Ossoff and Warnock because he wants a chance of passing progressive legislation.
“They’re better on criminal justice reform and are more based in science when it comes to both climate change and legitimizing the results of the presidential elections,” Decker said.
In order to address the impact of climate change on the environment, Ossoff has said he will focus on moving toward clean and renewable energy. He has also been in favor of the U.S. returning to the Paris Climate Agreement. Perdue praised President Trump in leaving the Paris Agreement and endorsed the president's decision to abolish the Clean Power Plan in 2017.
Decker said although he is proud of the switch to blue in Georgia and thinks it’s a step in the right direction for the U.S., he believes there is a lot more work to be done.
With two Senate elections this year, Georgia will play a crucial role in deciding who controls the Senate. After the state flipped blue in the presidential race, it seems anything can happen in these races.
If you would like more information on how to vote in the Senate Runoff race, click here.