The Need to Know About the 2020 Congressional Races

by Amanda Arnold

Nov. 13, 2020

The 2020 presidential race was not the only important election for Americans.

 

With President-elect Joseph Biden preparing for the transition back into the White House, voters must worry about the people sitting in the Senate and House of Representatives.

 

The simultaneous congressional races have led to Democrats maintaining the House of Representatives, albeit losing a few seats, but the future of the Senate majority is up in the air.

 

With a few states flipping, the Republicans currently hold 50 seats while the Democrats trail by four. The two Georgia runoff elections will determine which party holds the majority. 

 

Senators are elected for six year terms, but elections take place every two years on a rotating basis. Each state has two elected senators determined by popular vote. 

Sometimes, there is a correlation between the Senate majority and the party of the President at the time of the election. For example, the states that vote red for the presidential election have Republican senators.

According to the Pew Research Center, this is a new trend that began to emerge around 2012. There has been a steady decline in the number of ‘split-ticket’ voting, which means that the average voter does not cross vote for a Republican to serve office and also vote for a Democrat in another position on the same ballot.

When pieces of legislation go to the Senate, if the majority is conservative, more conservative legislation will likely pass. Though the House of Representatives is mostly Democratic, the Senate holds more power.

 

The expected blue wave of Democratic voters did not happen at the polls and Republicans performed fairly well on Nov.3 outside of the presidential election.

 

If the Democrats are able to gain enough seats in the Senate to even out with the Republicans, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will break the tie to benefit the Democrats due to her party affiliation.

 

To gain these seats, all eyes are on the two runoff elections in Georgia, it will be the deciding factor on who will hold control. The party that holds control can make or break the agenda of Biden.

On Jan. 5, voters will choose between incumbent Republican David Perdue and challenger Democrat Jon Ossoff, and incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock.

 

None of the four candidates managed to reach 50% at the polls, inciting another election. Loeffler and Warnock’s race is considered a special election because Loeffler has only held her position for 11 months at the time of the election. 

Which States Flipped?

Georgia holds the key to take control of the Senate during the January 2021 runoff elections for two seats. Kelly Loeffler will face off against Raphael Warnock, while Jon Ossoff will take on David Perdue. 

 

In Alabama, seasoned Democrat Doug Jones lost his seat to former Auburn football coach 

Tommy Tuberville. Jones was the first blue senator in the state since 1992. 

 

Tuberville, a Trump-ally who has also coached at Texas Tech, Miami, Cincinnati and Ole Miss, has no prior political experience.

 

Going into the election, Jones knew that his seat was vulnerable and was defeated by almost 500,000 votes.

 

In Arizona, Democrat Mark Kelly unseated Republican Martha McSally in a race that was closely watched around the country. McSally was appointed to replace the late John McCain but could not keep traction in the red state. 

 

Kelly came in at No.3 for most money raised in a Congressional race. 

 

A Colorado seat was flipped on Nov.3 when Republican Cory Gardner was stripped from his spot by Democrat Josh Hickenlooper. Hickenlooper was formerly a two-term governor for the state.

 

Ben Ray Luján grabbed the seat in New Mexico as a Democrat and the highest ranking Latino in the House.

 

In Maine, the Democrat conceded and it was the most expensive race in the country.

 

In North Carolina, Republican Senator Thom Tillis defeated Democrat Cal Cunningham.

Loeffler was appointed by Governor Brian Kemp to the Senate after Senator Johnny Isakson stepped down and has no prior political experience. 

 

Both Republican candidates have asked for the resignation from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger with claims of voter fraud, but Raffensperger has vehemently denied.

 

Jennifer Kowaleswki, associate professor of Multimedia Journalism at Georgia Southern and political science expert, explains the importance of the Senate. 

 

“The political party that’s in position of power in the Senate oversees who is named the head of the different committees,” Kowaleswki said. “It’s really important now, especially because we have a Democratic President-elect. They oftentimes provide check-and-balances to the president. If the President were to try and do anything, the Senate could potentially block him or her.” 

 

Though Trump has been noticeably silent about the runoff elections, many politicians have voiced their opinion and urge people to stay motivated to go to the polls.

 

In one day, Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez from New York raised $280,000 for the Georgia Senate race, while Kemp urged donors to rush a donation towards the Republican party.

 

Sitting chairs of both the Bulloch County Republican Party and the Bulloch County Democratic Party have started to organize teams to promote their candidates. They urge voters to get their ballots in early and take Jan.5 just as seriously as Nov.3.

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