MONMOUTH, ILLINOIS (November 9, 2022) — For the next month, it won't be hard for Americans to keep Georgia on their mind.
The state figures to be the key to determining which political party will have control of the US Senate, said Monmouth College political science lecturer Robin Johnson.
"It depends on what happens in Nevada," said Johnson, who also hosts the radio show and podcast Heartland Politics on WVIK-FM. "We should know by the weekend the result in Nevada, and if it goes to the Republican who's ahead [Adam Laxalt], then the race in Georgia will be for Senate control."
A victory for Laxalt would give the Republicans fifty Senate seats, and the Democrats will have 49 if incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly holds his lead over Republican challenger Blake Masters in the Arizona Senate race.
While Arizona and Nevada may be decided in a matter of days, Johnson explained why it will take longer to resolve the tight Senate race in Georgia, where neither incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock nor the GOP candidate, former football star Herschel Walker, garnered the required 50%, plus one vote.
"Georgia is heading for a run-off," said Johnson at noon on the day after the midterm elections. "It's going to be déjà vu all over again."
He was referring to the runoff required in 2020, when Warnock defeated Republican Kelly Loeffler after neither candidate received 50% of the vote in that November's election.
"For the runoff, they only take the top two, so someone will get more than 50% of the vote," said Johnson of the special election, which will be held December 6. "It's going to go through the Thanksgiving holiday, so people in Georgia are going to get another three or four weeks of political ads."
Johnson had an opinion on those advertisements, which seemed to be the only commercials that aired on television over the past few weeks.
"The ads were just awful this year," he said. "The candidates used to come on and share their vision before they'd go on attack at the end. But this year, they came right out of the gate with the negative ads."
Another déjà vu
Georgia is in for a repeat scenario, and Johnson said the entire country also experienced that on the night of the election.
"For the fourth election in a row, the American people have defied all the pundits," said Johnson. "And I think that's a good thing. We know that we're a polarized country, with not as many people in the middle. But this election showed that there are still independents out there. They can make a difference in a race, and that's a good thing."
The pundits had called for a "red wave," or a set of convincing Republican victories that would put the GOP in firm control of the House of Representatives and the Senate. But as Sen Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said, it was "definitely not a Republican wave, that's for darn sure."
Independents made a difference in some races, and also having their voices heard were younger voters, a point which Johnson discussed with his Monmouth students the morning after the election.
"Of particular interest to my students was the number of young people that got out to vote," said Johnson. "And that's heartening. That's a good sign for a healthy democracy. It will be interesting to see if they keep engaged.