Many Georgians worked tirelessly to flip Georgia blue – and it worked, both for the presidential and senatorial elections. On Nov. 3, the majority of Georgians voted for Joe Biden with a 11,779 vote margin and a record number of almost 5 million Georgians casting votes. This same energy carried through the Jan. 5 senate runoff elections. Now, Georgia, a right leaning state in recent history, has two Democratic senators in D.C. The U.S. Senate is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris now serving as the tiebreaker vote.
Running on the Democratic ticket for the Nov. 3 senate election were Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican David Perdue. With Perdue as the incumbent candidate, many projected him to leave this election maintaining his seat. Although Perdue had more votes, he failed to garner a majority of votes. Perdue captured 49.73% of the vote with 2,462,617 votes, while Ossoff captured 47.95%, amounting to 2,374,519 votes. (Shane Hazel, a Libertarian, took 2.3% of the votes, with 115,039 votes.)
Ossoff prevailed in the Jan. 5 runoff with 50.6% of the vote and a margin of over 55,000 more votes. Ossoff will serve as the eighth Jewish U.S. senator and the first Jewish senator from Georgia.
Democrat Raphael Warnock and GOP candidate Kelly Loeffler went head-to-head in the special election runoff, with Warnock beating Loeffler out by over 80,000 votes. While there have been 11 previous Black senators, Warnock is making history as Georgia’s first Black senator as well as the very first African American Democrat to serve in the Senate while representing a southern state.
While the two candidates campaigned tirelessly for months on end, much of the credit for their victory goes to grass roots organizers Stacey Abrams, LaTosha Brown, Nsé Ufot and Deborah Scott, among many others. In 2018, Abrams ran for governor of Georgia and lost to Republican Brian Kemp. However, this was nowhere near the end of her political career. After witnessing the injustices that took place during the 2018 gubernatorial election in regard to voter suppression while candidate Kemp also served as Georgia’s Secretary of State, Abrams launched Fair Fight.
Fair Fight is an organization that funds voter protection teams in 20 U.S. battleground states to ensure that every American who exercises their right to vote makes their voice heard in any election. Through Fair Fight, more Georgians came out to vote during the recent senatorial election and were able to flip Georgia blue.
LaTosha Brown is the co-founder of Black Voters Matter, along with Cliff Albright. Through their organization, black political power is increased through voter registration, education and mobilization. Brown’s efforts were carried out in 50 counties, with volunteers canvassing and holding COVID-safe drive-in events and rallies to encourage people to show up to the polls.
Nsé Ufot heads the nonpartisan New Georgia Project, dedicated to civically engaging Georgians and registering people to vote, particularly those from underrepresented groups such as young people and people of color. Ufot and her organization are responsible for tens of thousands of newly registered voters who came out to vote in the November election and January Senate runoffs.
As Founder of Georgia STAND-UP, Deborah Scott played a crucial role in this election as well. STAND-UP is an organization that promotes economic justice and supports economic development. In doing so, the program participates in project work agreements and policies that ensure an increase in voter equity in certain communities.
According to U.S. Elections Project, there were a total of 3,145,672 early voters and a 40.6% turnout of registered voters at the polls. To push them ahead in the polls, Warnock and Ossoff managed to mobilize a massive voter turnout amongst the African American community in Georgia along with a higher number of Latino and Asian voters. This, combined with enough white suburban voters, gave both Democrats a lead in the election, pushing them ahead of Loeffler and Perdue.
Additionally, in order to reach young voters, both candidates utilized social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. In the end, U.S. Elections Project reported 232,407 early voters between the ages of 18 and 24, with a total of 954,919 registered voters in that age group.
Ossoff and Warnock campaigned and worked side-by-side throughout 2020. Ossoff is a documentary film producer and investigative journalist, with a strong passion for politics that began early in his career. He previously worked as an intern for Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and as a staffer for U.S. representative Hank Johnson from 2007 to 2012. Ossoff had an unsuccessful run for the U.S. House in 2017, with Republican Karen Handel beating him in a runoff for Tom Price’s seat following Price’s appointment to President Trump’s cabinet as Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Reverend Warnock serves as the senior pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, the youngest pastor chosen to serve in that role. Warnock will complete the remaining two years of Senator Johnny Isakson’s term, and is expected to run again in 2022.