Georgia Senate Runoff Ends with Double Democrat Victory

Anika Strite, Staff Writer

On Tuesday, January 5th, Georgia voters headed to the polls for a special senate runoff election. Election officials have announced that Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock defeated the Republican incumbents, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Ossoff and Warnock were sworn into office by the newly inaugurated vice president, Kamala Harris, on Wednesday, January 20th. This will be one of her first acts as the head of the Senate.

The runoff elections are due to a peculiar voting system exclusive to Georgia. According to this system, a candidate must receive at least 50 percent of the votes to advance through a primary or general election. If no one gets enough votes, the two most popular candidates advance to a runoff election. This January, Jon Ossoff and David Perdue faced off in a regular election race. The other race was between Raphael Warnock and Kelly Loeffler to fill a retired senator’s seat.

The victory of Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock is a major victory for the Democratic Party. This creates a fifty-fifty split between seats held by Democrats and seats held by Republicans, but Vice President Harris serves as a tiebreaker as the head of the Senate. The Senate now has a Democratic majority, meaning that the new Biden administration will have little resistance from Congress for the first two years of his presidency, at the least. Ossoff and Warnock are also the first Jewish and  Black senator, respectively, from the state of Georgia, making this election a historical upset. Extraordinary efforts by Democrats and organizers, such as Stacey Abrams, increased voter turnout in a state that is notorious for its suppression of voters of color. Even this year, counties that trend blue had few early voting locations, while being densely populated. The locations that were closed were in neighborhoods with large Black and Brown populations because Republicans know people of color are much more likely to vote blue than red. Georgia’s runoff elections have racist roots as well: they were originally implemented to ensure that Black candidates could not win against white opponents. The runoffs warranted that white candidates could beat Black candidates in a majority contest, instead of a plurality contest with more than two candidates. The logic was that Black voters tended to all vote for the Black candidate, and the white vote was split amongst various other candidates. The congressman who advocated for this system, Denmark Groover, admitted his racial prejudice two decades after it was put in place: “If you want to establish if I was racially prejudiced, I was,” he said. “If you want to establish that some of my political activity was racially motivated, it was.” ¹

Ossoff and Warnock are evidence that Congress is becoming more diverse in a country with a rapidly changing demographic. Key points in Ossoff’s policy revolve around healthcare, clean energy, lowering taxes for the middle and working class, reproductive rights, and criminal justice reform. Warnock’s priorities lie in many of the same areas, as well as education, LGBTQ+ rights, veterans and their families, and immigration. 


  1. National Historic Landmarks Program, National Park Service. Civil Rights in America: Racial Voting Rights A National Historic Landmarks Theme Study. 2009.