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Does the Georgia Runoff still matter?

Why the Georgia Runoff Election Still Matters

A 50-seat Senate minority has more clout than one with only 49.

By The Editorial Board, WSJ

Nov. 14, 2022 6:31 pm ET

Republicans won’t run the Senate in the next Congress, but whether they have 50 votes or only 49 after the Dec. 6 Georgia runoff still matters a great deal to policy outcomes.

The contest in Georgia between Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker is for six years, not two as in 2020, which means this will matter to organizing the Senate for three Congresses. The GOP has a favorable electoral Senate map in 2024, and every seat will make a difference in how many Democratic incumbents Republicans would need to defeat to regain the majority in what could be a difficult presidential election year for the GOP. (See nearby.)

But even for the next two years, the difference of only a single seat would help the Democrats. The majority party wouldn’t have to split committee assignments evenly with the minority, meaning Democrats would have less need to negotiate with the GOP, and there would be less chance of Republicans defeating Biden Administration nominees in committee.

No single Democrat would be able to hold up or block a nominee any longer—for example, the way Joe Manchin has held up Richard Glick at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. A 51-49 majority also means that two Democrats can be absent and Democrats could still hold a vote and prevail.

In a country as narrowly divided politically as the U.S., every Senate race now has major implications. All the more reason the GOP should regret having nominated so many bad candidates, as last week demonstrated.

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