The Strike Explains: Runoff elections


Natalia Tapia, Spread Editor

The state of Georgia had its election runoffs on Jan. 5, with the Republicans having 50 seats on the Senate floor and the Democrats having 48. These two runoffs had a lot at stake, here’s why. 

A runoff election is known as a follow-up election where the two candidates with the most votes in the primary election run against each other. Runoff elections occur when none of the candidates meet the required amount of votes. Without a specific percentage being met, a winner cannot be declared. Every state holds a different threshold, for example, in Georgia, it is required for a candidate to win 50 percent plus one vote of the majority of votes to be elected to office. According to an article written by Steve Redisch from VOA News, if no candidate wins by a 50 percent plus one vote margin in the original primary, it goes to a runoff election.

This year, Georgia had two Senate runoff elections. Two Senate seats were up for grabs and could potentially flip the Senate from a Republican to a Democratic majority. According to the Wall Street Journal, with Republicans holding 50 seats, 46 occupied by Democrats, and two seats obtained by Independents that vote in favor of Democrats, this leaves the Democrats with a total of 48 seats. If the Democrats were to win both runoffs in Georgia it will tie the Senate,  and the person who breaks this tie is Kamala Harris since she is the Vice President. With this said, there was much at stake for Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, the Democratic candidates in the Georgia runoffs. 

Jon Ossoff ran against incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue whose 6-year term has come to an end. They went to a runoff because, in the regular primary, Perdue received 49.73 percent of the votes, and Ossoff 47.95 percent, failing to meet the 50 percent plus one requirement. It was a close election, with Ossof gaining 50.6 percent of the votes and Perdue 49.4 percent, despite failing to show up to debates. Ossoff made history by becoming the first Jewish Georgia Senator.

“It shows an astonishing arrogance and sense of entitlement for Georgia’s senior U.S. senator to believe he shouldn’t have to debate at a moment like this in our history,” Ossoff said. 

Raphael Warnock, also known as Rev. Warnock ran against incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who was selected by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in December 2019 to fill Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat when he retired. Loeffler and Warnock were competing for the remaining two years of Isakson’s term and will have to run for re-election in just two years. After winning with a 51 percent majority, Warnock made history by becoming Georgia’s first Black senator as well as the first Black Democrat to represent a southern state in the Senate. 

“I am an iteration and an example of the American dream,” Warnock said on CNN’s “New Day,” adding that he’s “deeply honored that Georgians would place their trust in him.

 This Senate win for the Democrats will allow President Joe Biden to accomplish many things he wouldn’t be able to do if the Senate wasn’t on his side.