Feelings are split among Democrats across the country right now: optimism that Joe Biden will likely be the next President of the United States, but disappointment that Democratic candidates have underperformed in U.S. Senate races, particularly in southern states.
The most predictable loss came in Tennessee, where Trump loyalist Bill Hagerty defeated activist Marquita Bradshaw by an estimated twenty-seven points in a bid for the retiring Lamar Alexander’s Senate seat. Bradshaw received very little support from her fellow progressives in a contest that was never seen as winnable. Similarly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defeated former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath by twenty points. Alabama Senator Doug Jones is the only Democratic incumbent Senator to lose his seat, falling short of his opponent, former football coach Tommy Tuberville, by twenty points.
In closer, more heartbreaking races, John Conryn defeated U.S. Air Force veteran MJ Hegar by an estimated ten points in Texas, and, in a highly publicized race, notorious hypocrite Lindsey Graham overcame challenger Jaime Harrison by an estimated thirteen points in South Carolina. In Mississippi, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy lost to Confederate fetishist Cindy Hyde-Smith by thirteen points. One can’t help but wonder, if Espy had received the same sort of national support that Jaime Harrison received from the Democratic Party, whether the results may have been different. At the very least, the race likely would have been closer, which could have made a huge difference in the future of Mississippi politics.
We do have three races in southern states that, at the time of this writing, have not been called. In North Carolina, with seven per cent of ballots left to report, retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and former state legislator Cal Cunningham trails incumbent Republican Thom Tillis by less than two points. Tillis is still considered the favorite at this point, but one promising sign is that incumbent Democratic Governor Roy Cooper has been re-elected in the state, overcoming a challenge by his own lieutenant governor, Republican Dan Forest.
But the most interesting state in the South remains Georgia, as is the case in the presidential election. In a special election to fill the seat vacated by Johnny Isakson (who resigned for health reasons), eight Democrats and six Republicans all competed for support. Unsurprisingly, no candidate earned a majority of votes cast, and the race will move to a run-off in January between pastor Raphael Warnock, who earned a clear plurality of the votes, and Republican Kelly Loeffler, who finished second in the election, about seven points behind Warnock. But Georgia’s other U.S. Senate seat is up for grabs, as well. With ninety-eight per cent reporting, incumbent Republican David Perdue currently holds a lead over investigative journalist Jon Ossoff of just over two points, which means Ossoff does not have a mathematical chance of securing a majority. However, as the final ballot counts are reported, if Perdue’s lead narrows at all (which seems likely), his vote share will slip below fifty per cent, and this race, too, will move into a run-off in January.
Georgia has now clearly become a battleground state for national politics, and the two races in Georgia will likely determine which party controls the Senate for the next two years. If you think that’s important, please consider donating to the campaigns of Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, if you are able to do so.
The path for progress in the South will never be an easy one, and the 2020 elections are proof of that. But cracks are continuing to form, and light is beginning to shine through.