WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden will travel to Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday to stump for Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, his first campaign trip since he was elected president in November.
The stakes could hardly be higher: Ossoff and Warnock are challenging incumbent Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, respectively, in runoff elections on Jan. 5, the outcomes of which will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.
Following November’s election, the initial makeup of the Senate is 50 Republicans, 46 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the Democrats. If Warnock and Ossoff both win their races, Democrats will have 50 reliable votes, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris providing a tie-breaking 51st vote.
With 51 votes in the Senate, Biden could realistically hope to enact some of his most sweeping (and expensive) domestic policy proposals, including a massive green jobs program. He would also be granted carte blanche confirmations for his nominees, greatly accelerating the pace at which a Biden administration could take the reins of the federal bureaucracy.
Despite decades of Republican dominance in Georgia politics, Democrats have a reason this year to be optimistic: Biden narrowly won Georgia’s popular vote, a surprise victory that made him the first Democrat in more than 20 years to clinch the state in a presidential race.
But there is no guarantee that Biden’s good fortune will repeat itself in the Senate races.
Polling averages currently show both races as neck-and-neck. But Loeffler and Perdue benefit from incumbency and a historical advantage: Georgia hasn’t sent a Democratic senator to Washington in a generation.